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Hawaii State House fails to guarantee equal rights to all Hawaii Families

(HONOLULU) Gay civil-rights groups vow to continue their fight to achieve equal rights after the Hawaii state House failed to take up HB 444 SD1, the Aloha State’s civil unions bill.

The House voted by voice vote on Friday to postpone the bill indefinitely, effectively killing it for the session. The bill would have provided that the equal rights and responsibilities of married couples in Hawaii were afforded to thousands of non-married couples in the state.

Equality Hawaii, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil-rights organization, and the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil-rights organization, denounced the House’s action.

“We’re sorely disappointed that the Hawaii State House refused to take action on the Civil Unions bill,” said Tambry Young, co-chair of Equality Hawaii. “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.”

The House’s decision followed swift action by the Senate, which passed the bill, 18-7, on Jan. 22. House Speaker Calvin Say suggested earlier last week that the House may not be willing to reconsider the bill if the majority could not garner enough votes to override a possible veto from the governor. Governor Linda Lingle has never threatened to veto the bill.

“We’re stunned that the Hawaii State House would act contrary to their previous position of strongly supporting this bill,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “We thank all those who advocate for equality in the Aloha State, especially our friends in the legislature and with Equality Hawaii. We have been a proud partner with Hawaii’s fair-minded residents for decades and will continue to stand by their side in the struggle for equality.”

Alan Spector, legislative affairs co-chair for Equality Hawaii, said his organization would not give up.

“This fight is not over and we will ultimately prevail,” Spector said. “It is simply unfathomable that politics and election considerations would supersede honor, integrity and common-sense. Today, these Representatives did not represent their constituent’s families – shame on them.”