Bill aims to fix flaws in Hawaii's civil unions law

Gary Bradley
Gary Bradley
State Representative Blake Oshiro
State Representative Blake Oshiro

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Hawaii gets ready for civil union ceremonies, a 'fix-it bill' is already in the works. The measure is aimed at correcting potential problems in the new law.

Gary Bradley and his partner, Paul Perry, can't wait for their civil union ceremony on January 1.

"We love each other. We want to make that commitment, and this is just one step closer that we can get," said Bradley.

They're already in a reciprocal beneficiary relationship in Hawaii which they must end under the new law before applying for a civil union. Once the paperwork is mailed in, the termination process takes about five days, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health.

"We're sending ours off this next week because it will be close to the holidays and it goes to the Department of Health. We have to get something back from them showing our reciprocal beneficiary is void. So it could be a period of 2, 3 weeks," explained Bradley.

The gap period could create problems when it comes to issues like insurance, inheritance, or property rights.

"There's always a risk that something tragic could happen in that gap period where you've lost your legal recognition," said State Representative Blake Oshiro.

Oshiro is part of a task force that came up with ideas to improve the law. In the fix-it bill, a reciprocal beneficiary relationship would automatically end when a civil union license is issued, which would help to close the gap.

"We're hoping that because most of them are administrative and a lot of them are housekeeping that it shouldn't get tied up too much in the legislative process, but like everything else in the legislature, it moves at its own time," said Oshiro.

"It would have been nice if it would have been more seamless, but unfortunately that's not the case," Bradley said.

Rose Yager and her partner got married on the mainland. They plan to renew their vows in Hawaii.

"I just think it's great. I think it's a step in the right direction. I think that anybody that loves each other should be able to be united," said Yager.

Since reciprocal beneficiary relationships began in Hawaii in 1997, the Department of Health has registered 2,181 couples. The total includes same-sex partners and blood relatives, such as father and daughter.

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