Ghost of Hawaiian civil-union veto

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 16:  Lesbian couple Robin Tyler and Diane Olson (R) are joined in marriage by Rabbi Denise Eger (L) in the first legally recognized same-sex marriage in Los Angeles County, at the Beverly Hills courthouse on June 16, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. The two were plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits that led to the overturning of California's gay marriage ban. Gay and Lesbian marriages became legal in California at 5:01 p.m. The California Supreme Court refused to stay its decision legalizing same-sex marriage despite calls by conservative and religious opponents, before an initiative to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage goes to ballot in November. A study released by University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) this month projects that nearly half of the state's 102,600 same-sex couples will marry in the next three years and, along with same-sex couples from other states, will spend more than $683 million on weddings, honeymoons and other marriage-related activities.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Media attention following the Hawaiian governor’s veto of a same-sex civil unions bill has been on whether tourists and businesses should boycott the beautiful island chain, a la the LA response to Arizona’s anti-undocumented-alien law.

This article from Time sets the scene and explains Gov. Linda Lingle’s reasoning for vetoing the bill after weeks of deliberation:

Throughout the day on Tuesday, citizens on both sides of the issue protested at the Hawaii State Capitol building in Honolulu. Proponents of the bill wore rainbow leis and played music from the Rent soundtrack; opponents led prayer sessions and carried signs bearing slogans like “God loves you! So he sets boundaries.”

But at 3 p.m. local time, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle delivered the news everyone had been waiting for when she announced she had vetoed the bill, citing a “flawed” legal process by which the measure was approved by state lawmakers 31 to 20 on the last day of the legislative session in April. Lingle, a 57-year-old Republican and Hawaii’s first woman governor, said she felt lawmakers had denied the public the right to weigh in on the issue with their 11th-hour voting, and she recommended that the bill go to a national vote.

What this article doesn’t mention is what role religion played in Lingle’s decision. That might not be unusual in many cases, but it is here. Even more unusual is that Herbert A. Sample of the Associated Press didn’t mention any faith-based influence in his article.

See, it was Sample who last month reported that Lingle, who is one of a few Jewish governors, was consulting with two rabbis representing two very different branches of Judaism. In the previous article, Sample wrote:

Rabbis Itchel Krasnjansky and Peter Schaktman hail from different branches of Judaism and hold starkly contrasting views on whether same-sex couples should be permitted to form civil unions in Hawaii.

What they have in common is the ear of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who has until June 21 to announce whether she may veto the only pending civil unions legislation in the nation.

Obviously, Lingle got an extension. But looking past that, this story did a good job of discussing the different theological perspectives that Orthodox and Reform Jews bring to homosexuality and, by extension, civil unions and gay marriage.

But what was mysteriously missing from Sample’s story today, and any others I could find, is whether the words of Rabbis Krasnjansky or Schaktman made a difference in Lingle’s decision. Talk about a religion ghost, though, oddly, we might have missed it but for Sample’s earlier story.

Also of interest, at least to me, is whether one of the United States’ most popular JewsJon Stewart, of course — had Lingle’s ear. As Stewart said two years ago after the women pictured married in California:

Among the other couples were these two women, married by a rabbi, who celebrated with the traditional breaking of a glass. Now, I’m going to say something here: I don’t have a problem with them having children because they are gay, but I am concerned for the welfare of any child with two Jewish mothers.

Still funny.

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  • Carl

    If you read Lingle’s statement, it’s clear that her claim is that her religion wasn’t part of the decision. Rather, she thought the issue was too important to be decided on the last day of the House’s legislative schedule after people thought it had already failed. Instead, she wants a referendum on it, so everyone gets a say.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Well, this certainly puts a nail in the coffin of the idea that a compromise could be reached, separating civil and religious unions. Separation of church and state would seem to allow this, but… Apparently it’s going to be a battle for all or nothing in terms of ‘marriage equity’.

    I’m minded of the bit in Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”, where he essentially says, “If you don’t allow your enemy a line of retreat, you will get a fight to the death.” I’m not sure that’ll work out well for the traditionalists…

  • Brad A. Greenberg

    Carlos wrote:

    If you read Lingle’s statement, it’s clear that her claim is that her religion wasn’t part of the decision. Rather, she thought the issue was too important to be decided on the last day of the House’s legislative schedule after people thought it had already failed. Instead, she wants a referendum on it, so everyone gets a say.

    I don’t read in her statements that religion DIDN’T PLAY A ROLE. But even if she had said that, would it be true?

  • Carl

    It may or may not be true that religion didn’t play a role, but I can see why reporters neglected the angle, since Lingle is a bit of a black box. Her Lt. Gov. on the other hand was very vocal about his Catholicism influencing his opinion, and reporters have done a decent job of covering it.


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