HRC Blog

Focus Turns to State House on Hawaii Civil Unions Bill

This update on the current status of civil union legislation in Hawaii comes from HRC organizer Adrian Matanza who is on the ground in Honolulu: (l-r) HRC's Tony Wagner, Hawaii Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and Adrian Last night, Tony and I, along with the board members of Equality Hawaii, attended the third annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Dinner hosted by Hawaii Friends for Civil Rights. School Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto, the highest elected transgender official in the country, was among one of tonight's honorees. She was honored for her work ranging from equal rights for the LGBT community to her work supporting a women's right to choose and the sovereignty of the state of Hawaii. (l-r) Tony, Kim Coco Iwamoto, Carlos and Adrian While Tony and Kim Coco have known each other for some time, I met Kim Coco at the legislature on Friday when the Senate passed HB444 -- the civil unions Bill. Before we arrived on the island, Kim Coco helped lay much of the groundwork to make this bill a reality. “I am so very honored to receive this award from the Hawaii Friends of Civil Rights,” said Iwamoto. “The road for civil rights for the LGBT community has been difficult, but the vote in the Senate this past Friday was a step in the right direction.  I am just delighted to be working with friends from the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Hawaii on our mutual struggle for equality in our state.” Several legislators were in attendance to honor Kim Coco. I met and thanked Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, the first Asian American woman in the country to preside over a legislative chamber. (l-r) Tony, Retired Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson, House Judiciary Chair Jon Riki Karamatsu and Adrian She was integral in passing the civil unions bill with a veto-proof majority on Friday. I also met House Majority leader Blake Oshiro. We'll need help from him and our other allies this week to round up the necessary votes to pass the bill in the Hawaii House. Today, Tony and I are stopping by each House member's office to give them some information about the civil unions bill and how it will affect the residents of Hawaii; the same packets we delivered to the Senators last week before they passed the bill. This week, we'll be out in force collecting postcards on Oahu to deliver to the House members. If you'd like to join us, email me at or give me a call at 702.241.0211.

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