Connect with us

National

Hawaii governor vetoes civil unions bill

Activists denounce move as a ‘disgrace,’ plan lawsuit

Published

on

Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have enacted civil unions in the state. (Photo courtesy of Lingle’s office)

The governor of Hawaii on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have instituted civil unions in the Aloha State as LGBT groups announced plans to continue the fight for relationship recognition.

At a press conference announcing her decision, Gov. Linda Lingle (R) equated civil unions to same-sex marriage and said the issue inspired such strong emotions that it should be left for the people to decide.

“It was the depth of emotion felt by those on both sides of the issue that revealed to me how fundamental the institution of marriage is [to] our community,” she said.

Lingle had until Tuesday to sign the civil unions bill, veto it or take no action to allow the bill to become law.

During the press conference, the governor said Hawaii’s residents should decide the issue of civil unions through the referendum process.

“This is a decision that should not be made by one person sitting in her office, or by members of the majority party behind closed doors in a legislative caucus, but by all the people of Hawaii behind the curtain of the voting booth,” she said.

In 1998, Hawaii voters approved an amendment to their state constitution allowing the legislature to prohibit same-sex marriage in Hawaii. The Hawaii Legislature subsequently passed a statute banning same-sex marriage, but left the door open for civil unions.

In a statement, Alan Spector, legislative affairs co-chair for Equality Hawaii, said Lingle’s veto marked a “sad day for the thousands of Hawaii families who remain second-class citizens.”

“We fail to see how the governor’s actions are in the best interest of Hawaii’s future and are nothing more than political maneuvering at the expense of people’s lives,” Spector said. “We’re disappointed and outraged that same-sex families will not be treated equally under Hawaii law, but vow to come back and fight this fight another day.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, also expressed disappointment in a statement that followed Lingle’s decision to veto the civil unions bill.

“Gov. Lingle’s veto of legislation that would protect and strengthen Hawaii’s families is beyond a disappointment — it is a disgrace,” Carey said. “Hawaii’s lawmakers passed this bill because it was about fundamental fairness.”

Carey said the governor’s action “flies in the face of both common sense and common humanity” and urged the legislature to override her veto.

But House Speaker Calvin Say reportedly said last week the State House would not hold a special session to override Lingle’s vetoes.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director for the Log Cabin Republicans, said his organization’s affiliates in Hawaii worked hard to influence the Republican governor to at least allow the bill to become law without her signature.

“Since this spring, Log Cabin Republicans on the Hawaiian Islands as well as the mainland United States have made it clear to Gov. Lingle and other Hawaiian lawmakers that we supported the civil union legislation,” he said.

Cooper said individual members of Log Cabin lobbied lawmakers and Lingle to support the civil unions legislation.

Activists in Hawaii are pursuing several options that could institute civil unions in Hawaii despite Lingle’s veto.

In a statement, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii announced they were filing a lawsuit in state court to fight for civil unions in the state.

Laurie Temple, staff attorney for the ACLU, said she’s “disappointed” Lingle didn’t follow through with signing the civil unions bill or allowing the legislation to become law.

“Luckily for the people of Hawaii, however, our constitution prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation,” she said. “If the governor won’t honor her oath to uphold the constitution, the courts will.”

Jennifer Pizer, national marriage project director for Lambda Legal, told the Blade her organization had litigation prepared in the spring when the civil unions legislation appeared to have stalled in the Hawaii Legislature.

“We were hoping that it would not be necessary,” she said. “Now that it is, we will be switching into litigation mode.”

Pizer said Lambda would file the lawsuit, although she didn’t know the exact timing of the case. She noted that Lambda has plaintiff couples lined up for the lawsuit, but declined to offer more information about them.

“I can’t give you the details of who the clients are or exactly what the lawsuit looks like,” she said. “That will be public when we file it, but we have been working on it for quite some time.”

Pizer said that guessing how long the litigation process would take is “very difficult to say” and would depend on how the state decides to defend the case.

“We’re curious to know exactly what the path will be and how long it will take, but it’s impossible to tell until we see how the state decides to answer,” she said.

Other groups — including Equality Hawaii and the Human Rights Campaign — are making plans to elect new lawmakers and a governor who would support enacting civil unions in the state.

Don Bentz, treasurer for Equality Hawaii, said his group is awaiting the election in the fall to determine the best path for civil unions legislation.

“We have a gubernatorial race and a number of allies in the House and the Senate are both up for re-election,” Bentz said. “So depending upon who gets re-elected or does not get re-elected, that would kind of determine whether we want to reintroduce [the bill] or wait for a lawsuit to work its way through the courts.”

One candidate for governor is already capitalizing on Lingle’s veto in the race to succeed her as governor.

In a statement, Democratic candidate Neil Abercrombie said Lingle mistakenly characterized the civil unions legislation as a bill that would enact same-sex marriage.

“The state legislature has already defined marriage as between a man and a woman,” Abercrombie said. “Civil unions respect our diversity, protect people’s privacy and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha.”

Abercrombie said ensuring Hawaii residents receive equal treatment will be up to the next governor and legislature.

“Protecting people’s civil rights cannot be compromised,” Abercrombie said. “I am committed to that most essential of constitutional imperatives.”

Lingle predicted the issue of civil unions would come to the ballot soon.

“I would be surprised if this does not go on the next available ballot,” she said. “I would encourage lawmakers to do it — whether it’s those who are in office or those who are not.”

Bentz said the idea of bringing the issue of civil unions to the ballot has been under discussion for some time, but isn’t something LGBT rights advocates want to see happen.

“When you go to the ballot, the opposition throws out all these lies and misinformation that basically cause people to vote against it,” he said.

Bentz said a voter-initiated ballot initiative isn’t available in Hawaii and that the matter could only come to the ballot following a constitutional convention or direction from the legislature.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Frankie James

    July 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    It’s ok to beat up on Gay people still.

    We are the last remaining free to bash group out there.

    Why and I not surprised at the R by the creepy woman’s name?

  2. LOrion

    July 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Thanks for the article. Glad to know someone is ready to push through the shock of the HATE CRIME committed by Gov. Lingle against ALL the LGBT people of Hawaii, and their friends, coworkers, famlies, clergy, teachers, students, patients, and providers.

  3. Doctor Whom

    July 7, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    “…but by all the people of Hawaii behind the curtain of the voting booth.”

    Not that tired old dodge again. It just goes to show that being a Republican means knowing when to say that we should let the people decide and when to say that America is a republic, not a democracy.

  4. Brian

    July 7, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    It’s important to understand that Catholic Bishops joined the Religious Right and Evangelical leaders in pressuring the Governor to veto the legislation. This is nothing short of religious-based bigotry. For any catholics, contact local Bishops, priests, and parishes to let them know your feelings.

  5. Peter the saint

    July 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Hmm, let’s see, should we reinstitute the ancient Roman custom of feeding Evangelical Christians to lions and tigers, for our entertainment? Well, that is kinda controversial but, you know, like the Gov. of Hawaii says, “from time to time there are issues that require the reflection, collective wisdom and consent of the people, and reserves to them the right to directly decide those matters.”

    Yeah, we should put it to a vote of the people first, that’s only fair…
    http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/20100707_Lingle_vetoes_civil-unions_bill.html

  6. Larry

    July 8, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Another republican politican, standing on the wrong side of history. Again. And advocating for letting the majority vote on civil rights for the minority (behind the privacy of a voting booth, so they won’t be labeled as bigots).

  7. Linda Cutter Crockett Lingle...

    July 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    …with her two brief, failed marriages and tons of rumors swirling around, seriously needs a date with a man.

    Might I suggest Mike Rogers, who can push her out of the closet. Not that such a revelation would surprise anyone in the Aloha State. Kama’ainas (Hawaiian locals) have simply assumed for years that she’s gay, and in the spirit of aloha, it didn’t matter any more than the fact she’s Jewish. That’s what makes this so odd, and why someone should check what’s going on in the closets of the Governor’s Mansion out there.

  8. Tim

    July 8, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I see that rotten Republican governor tried to use the same old excuse of saying it should come up for a public vote in a referendum. We know were that goes given the tyranny of the majority. I want to know when we get to have a vote on the validity of their marriages? And while we are at it, only gay & lesbian people should be given a chance to vote in the referendum vote on the right of straight people to get married. It really is an outrage that these people think they have the right to vote on whether we should be given our rights. The people in Hawaii should give this cow the boot and make sure the Republican Lt. Governor doesn’t replace her. Why are all of these Republicans getting elected in Hawaii anyway, isn’t it suppose to be a liberal state?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

National

Colin Powell, leaving mixed legacy on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ dies at 84

Key figure once opposed gays in military, then backed review

Published

on

gay news, Washington Blade, Colin Powell, gay marriage
Colin Powell leaves behind a mixed legacy on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Colin Powell, the first ever Black secretary of state who served in top diplomatic and military roles in U.S. administrations, died Monday of coronavirus at age 84, leaving behind a mixed record on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The world continues to grapple with the pandemic and the public grows increasingly frustrated with its persistence as many remain unvaccinated despite the wide availability of vaccines. Powell was fully vaccinated, according to a statement released upon his death. Powell reportedly suffered from multiple myeloma, a condition that hampers an individual’s ability to combat blood infections.

Rising to the top of the military as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell supported in 1993 Congress moving forward with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a law that barred openly gay people from serving in the U.S. military.

During a key moment congressional testimony, Powell and other top military officials were asked whether or not allowing gay people in the military would be compatible with military readiness. Each official, including Powell,” responded “incompatible.” Congress would enact “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that year.

Things changed when President Obama took office 15 years later and advocates for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were eager to claim Powell’s voice among their ranks. After all, Powell was highly respected as a bipartisan voice after having served as secretary of state in the administration of George W. Bush and endorsing Obama in the 2008 election.

After the Obama administration in 2010 announced it would conduct a review of the idea of allowing gay people to serve openly in the military, Powell came out in support of that process. Advocates of repeal called that a declaration of reversal, although the statement fell short of a full support for gay people serving openly in the military.

“In the almost 17 years since the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,” General Powell said in a statement issued by his office, adding, “I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.”

Congress acted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the policy was lifted in 2011. At the time, Powell was widely considered a supporter of ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and publicly counted among supporters of repeal, although the Blade couldn’t immediately find any statements from him to that effect.

In 2012, Powell had similar vaguely supportive words on same-sex marriage, saying he had “no problem with it” when asked about the issue.

“As I’ve thought about gay marriage, I know a lot of friends who are individually gay but are in partnerships with loved ones, and they are as stable a family as my family is, and they raise children,” Powell said. “And so I don’t see any reason not to say that they should be able to get married.”

The Blade also couldn’t immediately find any statement from Powell on transgender people serving in the military. After the Obama administration in 2016 lifted decades-old regulations against transgender service, former President Trump issued a ban by tweet the following year. President Biden reversed that ban and allowed transgender people to serve and enlist in the military in his first year in office.

Continue Reading

Texas

Texas House approves anti-trans youth sports bill

HB 25 now heads to state Senate

Published

on

GenderCool Project leader and Trans activist Landon Richie (Photo courtesy of Landon Richie)

Texas House Republicans were able to push through the anti-trans youth sports measure Thursday evening after hours of emotional and at times rancorous debate, passing the bill in a 76-54 vote along party lines.

Under the provisions of Texas House Bill 25, all trans student athletes in grades K-12 will be prohibited from competing on sports teams aligned with their gender identity. The bill will now head to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

The Texas Tribune reported that the University Interscholastic League, which governs school sports in Texas, already requires that an athlete’s gender be determined by the sex listed on their birth certificate. Republican Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, the author of HB 25 has said the bill would simply “codify” existing UIL rules.

However, UIL recognizes any legally modified birth certificates. That policy could accommodate someone who may have had their birth certificate changed to match their gender identity, which can sometimes be an arduous process.

HB 25 would not allow recognition of these legally modified birth certificates unless changes were made because of a clerical error. It’s not clear though how it will be determined if a birth certificate has been legally modified or not. According to the UIL, the process for checking student birth certificates is left up to schools and districts, not the UIL the Tribune reported.

“To say that tonight’s passage of HB 25 is devastating is an understatement. For the past 10 grueling, exhausting, and deeply traumatic months, trans youth have been forced to debate their very existence—only to be met by the deaf ears and averted eyes of our state’s leaders,” Landon Richie, a GenderCool Project leader, University of Houston student and Transactivist told the Washington Blade after the vote.

“Make no mistake: This bill will not only have detrimental impacts on trans youth, who already suffer immense levels of harassment and bullying in schools, but also on cisgender youth who don’t conform to Texas’s idea of ‘male’ or ‘female.’ To trans kids everywhere: you belong, you are loved, you are valued, you are deserving of dignity, respect, care and the ability to live freely as your true and authentic selves, no matter where you are. We will never stop fighting for trans lives and a future where trans kids are unequivocally and unwaveringly celebrated for who they are,” Richie said.

“The cruelty of this bill is breathtaking, and the legislators who are pushing it forward are doing irreparable harm to our state. Texas is a place where people value freedom and respect for diversity. This bill is a betrayal of those cherished values, and future generations will look back on this moment in disbelief that elected officials supported such an absurd and hateful measure,” Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights told the Blade. “The families of these kids deserve better, and the burden is now on the rest of us to do everything in our power to stop this dangerous bill now,” he added.

During the debate on the measure, state Rep. James Talarico, (D-Round Rock), a former middle school teacher, began his remarks by apologizing to the trans kids and families who have gone to the Capitol time and time again this year. He tells the chamber he speaks now as a legislator, and educator, and a Christian.

He quoted Republican Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, the author of HB 25 who said “if one girl wins a game, it’s worth it.” He says he has a different moral yardstick. “If one trans kid dies for a trophy, this bill is grotesque.”

He ended speaking to his “fellow believers” in the chamber. “The worst part in these hearings have been in hearing the Bible used against trans kids to support these bills. Even tonight, ‘God’s law’ was used to present an amendment.” He then quoted the first two lines of the Bible, where God is referred to with two different Hebrew words, one masculine/one feminine. “God is non-binary.” He then prevented an interruption in the chamber and continued telling trans kids that he loves them.

Fellow Democratic state Rep. Jessica González, (D-Dallas County), vice-chair of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus asked the chamber how many trans Texas kids they are willing to hurt. She reminded her fellow representatives that cisgender women and girls will also be hurt by the bill. She shared a personal story about being outed in high school by a friend, having her locker, home, and car vandalized and losing all of her friends. “Kids are cruel.”

González told lawmakers that her brother encouraged her to try out for soccer, and she was bullied with comments like “shouldn’t she be trying out for the boys’ team.” She went from feeling a bit accepted to being an outsider again. She then reflected on carrying those feelings into adulthood and said that this bill will have long-term affects on trans kids. She asked legislators to listen to the stories of the trans kids who have bravely testified, saying kids will contemplate suicide or complete suicide.

Representative Diego Bernal, (D-San Antonio), told the chamber that some representatives can’t wrap their heads around knowing that there is no problem but there is *real* harm to trans kids, and for whatever reason, that’s not enough it seems to stop moving these bills.

He said that he has heard “if they already have mental health issues and suicide ideation, this can’t make it worse” and “if the debate is harming them, let’s just vote.” The he breaks down the Texas statute’s definition of bullying, telling lawmakers, “The bullying statute doesn’t have an intent requirement. It doesn’t matter if you don’t mean to cause them harm. We are bullying these students. Know that by law … our own definitions and our own words, we are. And we don’t have to.”

“Texas lawmakers voted today to deliberately discriminate against transgender children. Excluding transgender students from participating in sports with their peers violates the Constitution and puts already vulnerable youth at serious risk of mental and emotional harm,” Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas said in a statement to the Blade.

“There is no evidence that transgender kids pose any threat. It is indefensible that legislators would force transgender youth and their families to travel to Austin to defend their own humanity, then blatantly ignore hours of testimony about the real damage this bill causes. Trans kids and their families deserve our love and support—they’ve been fighting this legislation for months. Texans will hold lawmakers accountable for their cruelty,” she added.

The statewide LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Texas in a tweet after the vote said; ” We will not stop fighting to protect transgender children.” Then added “We’ll continue to educate lawmakers—replacing misinformation with real stories—and demand the statewide and federal nondiscrimination protections we need to prevent further harms.”

Continue Reading

National

LGBTQ Youth web resource gone after Texas GOP candidate complained

Removal of the LGBTQ youth resource webpage appeared to be strictly political the Houston Chronicle reported

Published

on

Anti-LGBTQ Republican Don Huffines (Screenshot via Twitter)

AUSTIN – A late August video tweet from a wealthy Dallas-based real estate development company executive and conservative Republican gubernatorial challenger, blamed fellow Republican incumbent Texas Governor Greg Abbott for endorsing an LGBTQ+ agenda, because of the existence of a state online resource webpage for LGBTQ youth.

Within hours it was pulled down by the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services, (DFPS) the agency responsible for the page.

In an article published Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle reported that Don Huffines claimed tax dollars were being used to “advocate for transgender ideology.” Huffines also went on to say that DFPS was publishing “disturbing information about our youth.”

“They’re talking about helping empower and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, non-heterosexual behavior. I mean really? This is Texas. These are not Texas values. These are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values,” 

A message on the website states that the previous content is now under review.

According to the Chronicle, the website for the Texas Youth Connection, a division of Family and Protective Services that steers young people to various resources, including education, housing and those on its LGBTQ page as they prepare for life after foster care. It was replaced by a message that states, “The Texas Youth Connection website has been temporarily disabled for a comprehensive review of its content. This is being done to ensure that its information, resources, and referrals are current.”

LGBTQ+ activists and advocates are furious. Among the resources on the page for LGBTQ+ youth were critical information including for housing and information for suicide prevention and crisis assistance.

GenderCool Youth Leader, Trans rights activist and University of Houston student Landon Richie told the Blade Tuesday;

“This is deplorable. To Governor Abbott, LGBTQ+ youth are nothing more than pawns on a political chessboard. Despite his cries of protection and fairness in justification of this session’s unprecedented attacks on LGBTQ+ — especially trans — youth, it has never truly been about any of those things; it has always been about his power.

Now more than ever, LGBTQ+ youth deserve safety, protection, support, and affirmation from the state — this year alone, the Trevor Project received more than 10,800 crisis contacts from LGBTQ young people in Texas looking for support, as a result of this legislative session. LGBTQ+ youth deserve better than to be treated like they are as easily discardable as a webpage,” Richie said.

Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights reacted telling the Blade in an emailed statement:

“Helping LGBTQ youth and their families prevent suicide is not a partisan issue, and any elected official who seeks to make it one has lost any sense of shame. This action by Governor Abbott is appalling and will needlessly harm vulnerable children and families who urgently need support.”

Removal of the page appeared to be strictly political the Chronicle reported.

Patrick Crimmins, the department spokesman, told the Chronicle that the review “is still ongoing” but declined to answer questions seeking more detail about why the website was removed or whether it had anything to do with Huffines.

But Family and Protective Services communications obtained through a public records request show that agency employees discussed removing the “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation” page in response to Huffines’ tweet, shortly before taking it offline,” the paper wrote.

More telling was the events leading the page’s removal said the paper:

Thirteen minutes after Huffines’ video went up, media relations director Marissa Gonzales emailed a link to Crimmins, the agency’s communications director, under the subject line “Don Huffines video accusing Gov/DFPS of pushing liberal transgender agenda.”

FYI. This is starting to blow up on Twitter,” Gonzales wrote.

Crimmins then queried Darrell Azar, DFPS’ web and creative services director, about who oversees the page. “Darrell — please note we may need to take that page down, or somehow revise content,” he wrote.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth weighed in on the Chronicle’s reporting in an emailed statement to the Blade.

LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system — and those who have been in foster care report significantly higher rates of attempting suicide. It is unconscionable that the Texas state government would actively remove vital suicide prevention resources from its website for the sole purpose of appeasing a rival politician. Mental health and suicide prevention are nonpartisan,” said Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy and Government Affairs. “This story sends a terrible message to LGBTQ youth in Texas and will only contribute to the internalization of stigma and shame. We should be expanding access to support services for this group, not erasing what resources LGBTQ youth have to reach out for help.” 

The Chronicle reported that the deleted webpage also included links to the Texas chapters of PFLAG, a nationwide LGBTQ organization; a “national youth talk line” to discuss gender and sexual identity and various other issues; and LGBTQ legal services.

Huffines said the page also linked to a website operated by the Human Rights Campaign, a politically active LGBTQ advocacy group that he called “the Planned Parenthood of LGBT issues.”

Data on Texas:

  • Between January 1 and August 30, 2021, The Trevor Project received more than 10,800 crisis contacts (calls, texts, and chats) from LGBTQ young people in Texas looking for support. More than 3,900 of those crisis contacts (36%) came from transgender or nonbinary youth.
  • Crisis contacts from LGBTQ young people in Texas seeking support have grown over 150% when compared to the same time period in 2020.
  • While this volume of crisis contacts can not be attributed to any one factor (or bill), a qualitative analysis of the crisis contacts found that:
    • Transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas have directly stated that they are feeling stressed, using self-harm, and considering suicide due to anti-LGBTQ laws being debated in their state.
    • Some transgender and nonbinary youth have expressed fear over losing access to sports that provide important acceptance in their lives.

Additional Research: 

  • The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth (13-24) seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. — and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds.
  • The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular