Civil unions gain support, according to new poll

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The civil unions question isn't on the ballot and supporters don't want it to be. They have other plans and the new Hawaii News Now Star Advertiser poll shows they're gaining support.

In 1998 same sex marriage was banned in Hawaii and the pro-traditional marriage side had a wide margin of support, but now it appears the pro-civil union side has taken the lead.

Earlier this year lawmakers passed House Bill 444, the civil unions bill. Then the governor vetoed it. The bill extends the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union. So we asked voters do you generally support or oppose the civil unions bill? The responses showed 48 percent support, 44 percent oppose and 9 percent don't know or refused.

"I think it's not a true indication of how Hawaii people and Hawaii citizens and voters feel," said Nacia Blom, Hawaiian Values.

"At least what I can draw from this is that people are basing their decisions on knowledge and information as opposed to fear so it's promising," said Valerie Smith, Equality Hawaii Co-Chair.

Supporters say they have no desire to get the issue put to a public vote like Governor Lingle wants. Instead they'll push lawmakers to pass the bill outright again next session.

"We've already passed this bill once so we could pass it again and we passed it pretty solidly. Civil unions would currently be the law in Hawaii if it weren't for Linda Lingle," said Alan Spector, Equality Hawaii Co-Chair.

"People will always fall in love. People will always want to form communities together so until the human condition changes civil unions and same sex equality is inevitable," said Smith.

Opponents vow not to be surprised again. They take exception to how the bill was passed on the last day as the last item of the legislative session in what they call a sneak attack on the democratic process. Furthermore, Blom doesn't see civil unions as a civil right.

"It opens up a Pandora's box of legal issues. You've got to understand that if you allow this who's to say two brothers can't have this issue. I've got two aunts who have lived together for a really long time how come they can't, they've never fought for this kind of thing. I don't think it's a civil rights issue at all," said Blom.

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