On Friday, the Hawaii Senate passed a civil unions bill similar to the one that was vetoed by the state’s last governor. The vote was slightly better than the last time around (19-6 rather than 18-7). The bill now goes to the Hawaii House for its consideration and, hopefully, eventually to a more receptive governor.
The previous governor, Linda Lingle, vetoed the bill last time around because “it was the equivalent to marriage, which she believes should be reserved for a man and a woman.” Though I could not disagree more with her substantive assessment of civil unions, I do share Lingle’s skepticism of civil unions. That is because civil unions are not the equivalent of marriage but an inferior second-class status, as the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission firmly established in a report that it issued in 2008. Even when seen in the best light, civil unions are only a small (and clearly, not the final) step in the right direction.