Original same sex applicants celebrate Civil Union law
By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) – A group of civil union supporters applauded wildly when Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 232 into law. They had gathered at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel to watch an internet feed of the bill signing.
Perhaps none were more excited than Antoinette Pregil and Tammy Rodrigues. They have been together for 35 years and were one of three same sex couples to challenge state law in 1990 by asking for a marriage license. Their request was denied.
"That was really heartbreaking. That was really sad. And to come this far, it's a miracle," Pregil said.
Rodrigues and Pregil said they plan to form a legal union sometime soon after the law takes effect on January 1, 2012. They're not alone.
"Give me your hand. Will you enter into a civil union with me?" David Tyreman asked partner Theo Garcia shortly after watching Abercrombie sign the bill. "Sure. Why not?" said Garcia. "We've been together 14 years but now we're going to make it official," Tyreman added.
Same sex couples are excited they will soon have many of the same benefits heterosexual couples enjoy.
"We have medical concerns" said Robie Lovinger who intends for form a civil union with longtime partner Louise Esselstyn.
"Louise has MS, and so chances are (once we form a union) that we will have additional reassurance that in our time of need, no matter what written authorizations are in our portfolio, that I will be at Louise' side or she will be at my side in sickness and in health," Lovinger said.
After watching the signing ceremony Shaun Campbell said the new law may help his partner become a United States citizen.
"The civil union bill here in Hawaii possible contains some loop holes whereby undocumented people could in fact enter into a civil union here in Hawaii. I'm looking at that option for me and my partner possibly," Campbell said.
Some civil union supporters say this is just the beginning. They will continue to push for same sex marriage.
"Time will tell when we can get full benefits. Not just some benefits, but full benefits," said Andres Autrique.
As for Rodrigues and Pregil, they said they finally have everything they asked for 21 years ago.
"This is enough. This is it. It will give us the same rights. It doesn't have to be marriage. Marriage is just a word," Rodrigues said.