Soon the Jewish Republican Governor of Hawai’i will have to decide to sign or veto the civil union bill on her desk. Linda Lingle has consulted with ministers and with two rabbis in Hawai’i. One from Chabad and the other my good friend and colleague, Rabbi Peter Schaktman of Temple Emanu-El of Honolulu.
Rabbi Shacktman is a Reform rabbi and before he came to his pulpit in Hawai’i worked for the Union for Reform Judaism. He is a talented and articulate rabbi and in a recent meeting with the governor made the case that religion should not play a role in her decision but rather she should sign the civil union bills based upon equality and fairness.
His recent op-ed in the Star Advertiser “Ancient Views of Gay Sin Do Not Apply in the Modern Era” can be read here.
The irony of this upcoming decision is that in the early 1990’s it was a Hawaiian case that kicked off the marriage equality fight in a formal way. While some couples for years had applied for marriage licenses including in California, 3 gay couples in 1990 applied to the Hawaiian Department of Health for marriage licenses. They were denied and they sued in May 1991 for the right to marry. The case was thrown out of court stating that there was no right to marry in the state Constitution. But it was appealed and in 1993 the Hawaiian Supreme Court reinstated the case and ruled the ban on marriage unconstitutional unless the state could show it was justified in banning marriage between same-sex couples! By 1996 the court in Hawaii ruled that the ban violated the state’s equal protection clause on the basis of gender. But in the mean time the Hawaii voters approved a measure to ban gay marriages in the Constitution and so a 1999 ruling dismissed the case brought before the state Supreme Court. It was this court case that caused California Senator Pete Knight to introduce Proposition 22 that voters approved to amend the California family codes to not recognize out-of-state gay marriages. And it was this case that gave rise to DOMA-the Defense of Marriage Act at the federal level.
So you marriage activists. Know your history. And for those of you who are from Hawai’i or own property there or even a time share there–call Governor Lingle’s office and urge her to sign the civil unions bill! Her office contact information is:
The Honorable Linda Lingle
Governor, State of Hawai`i
Honolulu, Hawai`i 96813