HRC Blog

Hawaii Civil Union Bill Update - Rainbow Edition

This update comes from HRC's organizer working in Hawaii, Adrian Matanza.

rainbow Generating Constituent Contacts After last week's victory in the Hawaii Senate, Tony and I have been continuing the effort to pressure the House to vote in favor of HB444, the Civil Unions bill. Today we are on the Leeward side of Oahu collecting postcards to show support is strong in some of our priority distrcits.  And our amazing volunteer Melanie in Maui, one of Hawaii's many islands, has been collecting postcards to send to legislators. Melanie collected over 60 postcards in one day that we will be delivering to Rep. Mele Carroll, one of the House members that represents Maui. We have also been reaching out to organizations and community leaders that have supported civil unions and our cause in the past. Working with groups such as Equality Hawaii, the Hawaii Democratic Party, the ACLU, Unite Here! Local 5 and others, we are able to show legislators that this legislation has widespread support. Lobbying the Legislature This week, Tony and I delivered information packets to each of the House members and then followed up with each of them to make sure their questions about the bill were answered. Most of the offices we met with were very friendly and eager to get this vote done. Although the vote has not been scheduled, we have heard from House Speaker Calvin Say that leadership will make its recommendation by Friday.  Should the recommendation be positive, then the vote could come as early as tomorrow, as well. Dominating the Media Coverage Most of the coverage of HB444 is coming from editorials and letters to the editors, and thankfully, nearly all of them are favorable. This morning, the Star Bulletin, Hawaii's second most circulated newspaper, published an editorial in favor of civil unions and urged the House to vote on the bill. Titled "Civil unions bill deserves decision now," it urges Speaker Say to consider the bill regardless of Governor Lingle's statement which asked the legislature to focus on the economy and not take up the bill. The article mentions some of the history Hawaii has had with granting rights to same-sex couples and how attitudes on the islands as well as on the mainland have shifted. Our opposition wants the public to believe that civil unions are in opposition to religion but this opinion piece in the Honolulu Advertiser, signed by over 25 clergy members, shows the widespread support that civil unions have in the religious community. Alan Spector of Equality Hawaii also did an excellent job making the case for this legislation on Hawaii Public Radio last week [mp3]. Stay tuned and we'll bring you the latest info on the House's decision to take and pass the bill.  To get involved with our efforts, please contact me at adrian.matanza@hrc.org or 702.241.0211 for more information. Mahalo!

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