HRC Blog

Equality on the move in Hawaii

Senate Judiciary Committee advance SB 232, (a Civil Unions bill) on a 3-2 vote, but newly elected Governor Neil Abercrombie nominated Sabrina McKenna, an out lesbian, to the state’s Supreme Court. SB 232 is the same version of the civil unions bill which passed both the house and senate last year. 

It is expected to receive final consideration and approval in the senate on Friday.  There is a second version of the bill, also introduced in the senate, with updated language regarding implementation.  Once the senate sends SB 232 to the house for consideration, it may agree to use the old language or consider and pass the newer version of the bill.  At that point, the house and senate would conference and work out the language between the two versions.

I will head to Hawaii next week to meet with legislators and mobilize grassroots support to urge swift passage of the bill.  If you’d like to help us pass civil unions in Hawaii, please email me at, and if you haven’t already taken action to email your elected officials, you may do here. In what he calls the most important decision of his career, Gov. Abercrombie nominated Judge McKenna to a 10-year appointment as an Associate Justice with the Hawaii Supreme Court.  Sen. Clayton Hee, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee which will consider McKenna’s nomination has indicated he believes McKenna to be eminently qualified and is likely to win approval from the senate. McKenna attended the University of Hawaii where she received her law degree and has been a judge in Hawaii since 1993.  McKenna has a domestic partnership with Denise Yamashiro and they have three children.

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