Two Days, Two Hearings, for Equality in Hawaii
February 9, 2011 by Tony Wagner, Western Regional Field Director
Over the past two days I have provided testimony to both the Hawaii Senate on Safe Schools legislation and the House on Civil Unions on behalf of HRC’s more than 4,000 members and supporters in the Aloha State.
The outcome of each was the same – equality is on the march here in the islands. On Monday, the Senate Education Committee heard testimony on several bills related to curbing bullying in schools and through the use of technology – cyber bullying. The committee was genuinely supportive of the measures and deferred decision making until Wednesday to give members and staff a chance to combine each of the bills into an overall package. Then on Tuesday, Hawaii took another crucial step towards equality as the House Judiciary Committee amended and then passed SB 232, a civil unions bill that provides equal rights and responsibilities of married couples in Hawaii by a 11-2 vote after hearing oral testimony.
I again provided testimony on behalf of HRC during the five hour hearing. The bill will now be considered by the full House before it heads back to the Senate for final approval as amended. SB 232 is identical to HB 444, the civil unions bill from last year's session, except for some technical corrections. That bill passed Hawaii's House and Senate, with near super majorities, before Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed it. No override vote was held. We’ll be on the ground working with Equality Hawaii and other advocates every step of the way, and will keep you up to date as the issues progress.
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