Hawaii state house members turn down civil unions - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii state house members turn down civil unions

Hawaii State House Hawaii State House
Dennis Arakaki Dennis Arakaki
Tambry Young Tambry Young

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Barely two weeks into the 2010 Hawaii Legislative session, the hot-button issue of civil unions for same-sex couples is essentially dead.

The state house voted Friday to indefinitely postpone any action on the measure.

While dozens, especially white-shirted opponents of the civil unions measure, lined up early to pack the House chamber, House majority Democrats met behind closed doors to decide what to do.

Shortly afterward, House Speaker Calvin made the motion that House Bill 444 "be postponed indefinitely."

House members approved the motion on a voice vote, drawing cheers from opponents, and angry chants of "roll call! Roll call!" from gay activists and other supporters.

Outside the chamber, the anger continued, with opponents chanting, "shame on you! Shame on you!"

"They're not Christians. They can't be Christians and deny others rights," said Carolyn Golojuch, a civil unions supporter and the Civil Rights chair of the Hawaii Democratic Party.

"Fear and bullying tactics superseded integrity and common sense," Alan Spector of the group Equality Hawaii said.

But opponents of the civil unions measure say the house vote reflects what they say are Hawaii's real values.

"We're very glad that people are finally beginning to see that this is what people want," said Dennis Arakaki of Hawaii Family Forum and the Hawaii Catholic Conference.

Arakaki also is a former house member, who acknowledges that the vote didn't actually kill the measure.

"Well, technically, it's still alive. There could be another procedural motion to take it off the table," Arakaki said.

It would take a simple majority of the 51 house members to bring the measure back this session, but the move is seen as highly unlikely.

But both sides say the issue itself is far from dead.

"The fight is not over. Equality will always triumph, and we're going to continue to move forward," said Tambry Young, co-chair of Equality Hawaii.

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