Lingle says she will confer with both sides on civil unions


POSTED: Thursday, May 06, 2010

Gov. Linda Lingle says she soon will start gathering information about the controversial civil unions bill that passed the state Legislature last week.

Lingle has until July 6 to either veto the bill, sign it or allow it to become law without her signature.

Admitting that she has not yet read the bill, Lingle told reporters yesterday that she planned a series of meetings with representatives for and against the measure.

“;We have people who have played a leadership role on both sides of the issue, and I want to give them a fair opportunity to express themselves and hear them out,”; Lingle said. “;I haven't even read the bill as of now. I will need to do that before I start these face-to-face (meetings).”;

Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona issued a statement shortly after the bill passed, saying he is opposed to the civil unions bill and the measure should not become law.

House Bill 444 allows any two unrelated adults to establish a civil union with all the rights, responsibilities and duties of a married couple, but specifically says the couple are not considered married.

Lingle said she would think carefully about Aiona's opinions.

“;His opinion is always important to me. I value it in all issues, especially issues that are controversial. I think he is a clear thinker,”; Lingle said.

She noted that Aiona, a strong Catholic, has both a religious and a broad community viewpoint.

“;He obviously has a very strong faith and he has a religious point of view on this, but he also has a community point of view,”; said Lingle. “;He is a person whose opinion I value a lot.”;

During her news conference, the governor also worried that whatever her decision, “;it will be divisive somewhat for the community.”;

“;Any kind of major issue can be that way, but I think a decision is in everyone's best interest—but I want to hear everyone out,”; Lingle said.

She turned back questions about a KHON-TV report Tuesday evening that quoted her as saying in a September 2002 interview that she would approve a domestic partnership bill if elected.

“;I continue to oppose same-sex marriage,”; Lingle said, according to the KHON report. “;But I have also said if a Legislature passed a domestic partnership law that I would let it become law; I would not oppose it.”;

Asked about the statement yesterday, Lingle said she didn't recall it, noting that she doesn't read everything reported about her. Since she became governor, the state has approved domestic partnership laws allowing reciprocal beneficiary relationships.