Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a civil unions bill Tuesday that would have given same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, saying the issue needs to be put to a referendum.
Lingle said the bill was equivalent to marriage, which she believes should be reserved for a man and a woman.
“There has not been a bill I have contemplated more or an issue I have thought more deeply about during my eight years as governor than House Bill 444 and the institution of marriage,” Lingle said at a news conference.
“I have been open and consistent in my opposition to same-sex marriage, and find that House Bill 444 is essentially same-sex marriage by another name.”
The bill, approved by the state Legislature in late April, would have granted gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits the state provides to married couples.
Lingle called the issue too emotional and too important to be decided solely by the governor or the state Legislature, and recommended a state constitutional amendment be placed on the ballot for voters in 2012.
Lingle’s veto comes on the last day she had to take action, otherwise it would have become law without her signature.