Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hawai'i Governor Linda Lingle's choice on civil unions legislation: approve it or accept the outcome of planned litigation

Just before the current session of Hawai'i's legislature ended April 29th, it approved civil unions legislation [HB 444] that seemed all but certain to expire with the session. (JURIST / (For the legislation's legal context, see this press release by Freedom to Marry, Dale Carpenter's post at the Volokh Conspiracy.) Governor Linda Lingle must now decide whether to sign the bill into law. Although she has until July 6th to do so, she has already received a huge volume of e-mail and phone calls. (AP / Honolulu Advertiser) If Lingle doesn't approve the legislation, successful litigation would effectively reverse her decision. In February, Lambda Legal and the ACLU announced their plan of a lawsuit to establish that the state constitution's provision of equal protection requires Hawai'i to establish civil unions. (Lambda Legal press release / ACLU press release) As law professor John Culhane reports, the lawsuit was among subjects of discussion at Equality Forum's legal panel. According to Lambda Legal's press release of April 29th, the advocacy groups "were already on O`ahu this week in final preparations for litigation if the legislature failed to act by today's end of session. We're delighted that, as long as Governor Lingle does not veto the bill, our lawsuit won't be necessary."

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