The Hawaii state House, conflicted by emotion and election-year politics, voted yesterday to indefinitely postpone action on a civil-unions bill, reports the Honolulu Advertiser.
The voice vote, which came after no debate, essentially kills the bill this session, since it would require a two-thirds majority to bring the bill back for consideration.
Gay rights activists in the House gallery shouted for a roll-call vote on the motion, and when lawmakers quickly moved to other items on their agenda, several screamed “Shame!” as they walked out of the chamber.
The state Senate approved a civil-unions bill last week that would give same-sex and heterosexual couples the rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage under state law. The vote reached the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a potential veto, a signal to the House and Gov. Linda Lingle.
Reaction, video courtesy the Honolulu Advertiser:
Friday’s move was met by catcalls from some in the crowd who packed the House gallery, with some screaming for a roll call vote. The gallery was mostly filled with opponents of HB 444 who wore white T-shirts.
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Opponents say the measure amounts to legalizing same-sex marriage, while supporters see it as a civil-rights issue and say the bill only simply extends reciprocal benefits to all who form a civil union.
“We’re sorely disappointed that the Hawaii State House refused to take action on the civil unions bill,” Equality Hawaii Co-Chair Tambry Young said in a statement. “Today, the House put its own political interests before the interests of Hawaii’s families and that’s bad policy and bad politics. We pledge that this fight is not over and we will continue in our efforts to see true equality in our state.”