Thursday, January 28, 1999

Cayetano: Domestic
partnerships ‘will happen’
in the isles

By Mike Yuen


Playing the oddsmaker, Gov. Ben Cayetano said his domestic partnership bill has a 50-50 chance of winning legislative approval.

And taking the role of post-election analyst, the governor said isle Republicans last year squandered their best opportunity in decades to recapture the governor's mansion.

Domestic partnerships -- which critics contend is tantamount to same-sex marriages but which Cayetano and others say is quite different -- "will happen" in the isles, Cayetano said, because Hawaii is the most tolerant state and was the first to legalize abortion and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

"But like anything else, it will take time," Cayetano said yesterday on Hawaii Public Radio's "Talk of Hawaii" show.

Cayetano said there are many people like himself who believe that marriage should be limited to a union between one man and one woman, and who were behind the overwhelming passage of the constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages.

But he and other supporters of traditional marriage also believe that many of the benefits stemming from marriage also should be extended to same-sex couples, Cayetano added.

"You're going to find that the homophobes and the very conservative people on the other side will not have the same kind of strength in their alliance as they did on traditional marriage," Cayetano said.

Cayetano's domestic partnership bill would grant gay and lesbian couples many of the the economic benefits of marriage, but withhold adoption and custody rights and the title of marriage.

Eight conservative organizations, including the Hawaii Christian Coalition, the Alliance for Traditional Marriage-Hawaii and Concerned Women for America, have announced opposition to domestic partnership legislation.

Concerning last year's election, Democrat Cayetano -- who won another term by only 5,253 votes -- conceded that he was vulnerable because of the state's poor economy and because he had angered University of Hawaii professors, public school teachers "and everybody else by some of the things we were doing."

But the GOP nominee, then-Maui Mayor Linda Lingle, failed to turn his situation to her advantage because she had no substantive plan on which to run, Cayetano said. "We ran ads provoking her, saying, 'OK, where's the beef?'"

She was incapable of responding since she really didn't have a plan, Cayetano added. "She's great with the rhetoric."

Lingle could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Told by a female caller that she would like to see Lingle in his administration, Cayetano replied: "I'm not sure that I can use Linda Lingle. She might not be comfortable working with me."

The next gubernatorial election will not even be close, Cayetano said in predicting that the Democratic Party will continue to hold onto Washington Place as it has since 1962.

"My re-election being as close as it was has really forced Democrats to look at things," Cayetano said.

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