The League of Women Voters of Hawaii strongly supports the intent of HB 908 which extends the same right and responsibilities of spouses to partners in a civil union.
In a survey of League members several years ago, the overwhelming response was for civil unions or domestic partnership for gays and lesbians.
While we do not have a position on "marriage" for gays and lesbians, in the Election of 1998, we opposed the proposed marriage amendment to the Hawaii State Constitution
in Article 1 our Bill of Rights which would include an exception to our rights as a dangerous precedence.
On June 5, 2006, The League of Women Voters of the United States joined with other civil and human rights organizations in a letter to the U.S. Senate urging Senators to oppose the “Federal Marriage Amendment” (S.J. Res.1), a radical proposal that would permanently write discrimination into the United States Constitution.
Opponents of civil unions for gays and lesbians cite the 70% vote for the marriage amendment as an indication that the same 70% are against civil unions. However, in our presentations against the marriage amendment before neighborhood boards, community organizations and even some cuirch-related groups, we heard comments from many individuals that while they would still vote for the amendment, they could support domestic partnerships or civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. “Marriage” is interpreted by most as a religious rite.
The reason I began this testimony supporting the intent of this bill rather than the whole bill is that I cannot speak on behalf of League on some of the provisions such as the age limits on participants for we have no position on some of the details.
We strongly urge the recognition of gays and lesbians as valuable citizens of our state and the nation, entitled to all of the rights of citizenship, and join the increasing number of states taking such action.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak out for a state committed to equal rights for all.