April 7, 2009

311 pages of inequality – courtesy of Senator Espero

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 8:25 pm

After soliciting a copy from Senator Espero, and after three evenings of effort, I offer the following crude digest of his 311-page draft to revive the Civil Union bill. However, after all this work, today comes news that there is at least one other alternative draft being circulated (by which Senator[s], if any, I don’t know) which is much more brief. And the red shirted opponents are already strategizing on how to respond. [I thought Dennis Arakaki was a rather progressive guy when he was in the House. Apparently not. What happened?!]

Espero’s bill seems to go from start to finish through the HRS, searching out instances where marriage is found, and making amendments to include civil unions in (some of) those laws. Because it takes this piecemeal approach instead of the more broad “civil unions have the rights of marriage” approach found in the previous incarnations, numerous rights are excluded simply because they are only found in case law, or in session law, or in administrative rules, etc. It’s a messy way to go about it, and Espero has, if follows, made a mess of it.

I have another document that catalogs all of the places where the term “marriage” is in the HRS, but I have yet to cross-reference it to Espero’s draft. I figured I would at least publish this digest before the whole issue dies, and continue working on comparing the draft to the other document.

After completing the digest I notice that Espero’s draft, while incrementaly better than the status quo, does not come close to replicating what comes to mind when one thinks of all the rights and privileges of marriage. If I tried to describe “marriage” to you only by means of the topics included in this bill, you’d be forgiven for not being eager to enter into it. Unless “marriage” currently meant even fewer rights and privileges than are in the draft… cf. reciprocal beneficiary status.

This is a long post, so click the link to see the gory details. Probably more than a few typos. Forgive me, but I have had enough for today, I’ll correct them if/as they turn up.

Page numbers refer to the PDF, not to the page numbers in the bill. These numbers only differ by one, but by the time I noticed I had already done about an hour of writing. Deal with it! Heh.

Page 1: Bill description.

Establishes civil unions and provides to civil union partners benefits available to reciprocal beneficiaries and benefits under the Hawaii Employer-Union Benefit Trust Fund, and allows civil union partners to jointly file state income tax returns, and provides for termination of civil unions through the judicial system.

That’s all?! Continuing on, just to be sure… [It turns out there is more than just those things.]

Page 2: Preamble language.

Page 3: Findings. [Emphasis mine.]

[T]he legislature believes that certain rights and benefits presently available only to married couples or reciprocal beneficiaries should be made available to committed couples comprised of two same sex individuals who are legally prohibited from marrying one another

Page 4: Definitions. Requisites of a valid civil union.

Page 5: Declaration as partners to a civil union; filing fees; records.

Page 6: Rights and obligations. [Emphasis mine.]

Upon the issuance of a certificate of civil union, the parties named in the certificate shall be entitled to those rights and obligations provided by the law to civil union partners. Unless otherwise expressly provided by law, civil union partners shall not have the same rights and obligations under the law that are conferred through marriage under chapter 572 or reciprocal beneficiary relationships under chapter 572C.

Civil union partner liabilities. May be personal representative, guardian, trustee, or other fiduciary.

I am unsure what this language accomplishes, or if/why it is necessary to include this permissive language—unless there are limitations elsewhere in the HRS regarding who may be appointed such fiduciary roles.

Pages 7 through 38: Termination of civil unions. Essentially parallel to HRS 580 (which covers annulment, divorce, and separation of married couples).

Page 39: Effect of termination (and reconciliation) of civil union on real property exemption.

Pages 39 through 41: Civil union partner of a candidate may not serve as precinct official.

Page 42: Defines “immediate family” to include civil union partners for the purposes of regulating campaign contributions and expenditures.

Page 42: Includes civil union partners and surviving partners in “veterans preference” provision of the civil service law.

Pages 43 through 56: Numerous provisions to insert civil union partners into the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund statute.

Pages 56 through 82: Numerous provisions to insert civil union partners into the Pensions and Retirement Systems statute.

Pages 83 and 84: Provides for an exemption to allow civil union partners of government employees to be conveyed in government vehicles in emergency situations.

Page 84: Amends definition of “family” in the Assistance to Displaced Persons statute to include civil union partners. Strangely enough, this is one place where civil unions are included but reciprocal beneficiaries are not.

Page 85: Stipulates criteria whereby civil union partners qualify as residential lessees of public lands.

Page 86: Includes civil union partners in the definition of “family’ with respect to homestead rights.

Pages 87 and 88: Amends disaster relief laws to allow personal loans to pay for expenses of civil union partners affected by a disaster.

Page 89: Civil union partners filing taxes jointly to be apportioned a share of any refund proportional to the size of each partners income.

Pages 90 through 139: Numerous provisions to include civil union partners in the income tax statutes.

Page 140: Civil union partners to be included in domestic violence fatality review statute definition of “family or household member.”

Page 141: Provides for hospital visitation and health care decisionmaking authority for civil union partners.

Page 141: Medical researchers to obtain approval from civil union partner before obtaining information directly from a patient in cases where a patient is still alive. Or something like that… I’m getting tired here.

Page 142: Defines civil union partner; amends definition of “disinterested witness” to exclude civil union partners in the Medical Research and Use of Bodies statute.

Page 143: Inserts civil union partners into a hierarchy of those who may authorize donation of a body or body parts for research purposes.

Page 143: Amends the “uniform” health care decisions act to include civil union partners in the definition of “interested persons.”

Pages 144 and 145: Payments for mental health treatment at state facilities shall take into consideration the financial circumstances of the patient’s civil union partner.

Page 146: Civil union partners to be notified if a mental health patient needs emergency hospitalization.

Page 147: Civil union partner must be notified of a hearing for involuntary commitment to mental health treatment.

Page 148: Involuntary commitment hearing may be postponed if civil union partner did not receive timely notice.

Page 149: Civil union partners must be notified of hearings regarding involuntary outpatient mental health treatment.

Page 150: Civil union partners have a “direct and tangible interest” and shall be allowed to inspect a public health statistics record.

Page 151: Civil union partners included in definition of “relative” under Crime Victim Compensation statute.

Page 152: Counseling service shall be available to civil union partners of youths committed to correctional facilities.

Page 153: Inmates may receive a special furlough to attend to death or serious injury of his or her civil union partner.

Page 153: Includes civil union partners in the definition of “family member” in the Lie Detector Tests statute.

Pages 154 through 156: Unlawful to discriminate in employment based upon civil union status.

Pages 157 through 169: Adds work performed by an employer’s civil union partner to the exclusions within the Employment Security statute.

Pages 169 through 171: Any workers compensation due to be paid to civil union partner in the event of worker’s death.

Pages 171 through 174: Adds civil union partner to those who may choose where a worker who dies from an injury on the job is buried. Also provides such a civil union partner with weekly Worker Compensation benefits.

Page 174: Categorizes civil union partner as a dependent entitled to income and indemnity benefits under the Worker Compensation statute.

Pages 175 and 176: Civil union partner of a worker deceased due to a workplace injury entitled to weekly benefits until death, marriage, reciprocal beneficiary relationship or civil union.

Page 177: An employer of a worker who dies and being owed wages or leave benefits shall pay those benefits, up to $2,000, to a civil union partner.

Pages 178 through 186: Adds work performed by an employer’s civil union partner to the exclusions within the Temporary Disability statute.

Pages 187 through 189: Adds work performed by an employer’s civil union partner to the exclusions within the Prepaid Healthcare statute.

Page 189: An employee is allowed four weeks family leave per calendar year to care for a civil union partner.

Pages 190 to 199: Provides civil union partners rights in insurance matters that are available to married spouses and reciprocal beneficiaries.

Page 200: A medicaid provision I can’t summarize succinctly. If you’re still reading at this point, you’ll forgive me. haha

Pages 201 through 204: Definition of “mutual benefit society” to include those that provide benefits to civil union partners.

Page 204: Incorporates civil union partner into the definition of “debtor” in the Collection Agencies statute.

Page 204: Civil union partner may provide consent for postmortem examination.

Pages 205 and 206: Civil union partners included in creation of joint tenancy, tenancy by entirety and tenancy in common statute.

Page 207: Transfer of lease hold property to a civil union partner not considered a “sale” requiring the provision of copies of the original lease to the buyer.

Pages 208 and 209: Civil union partner entitled to certain portions of an estate.

Pages 210 and 211: Remaining shares of an estate not due to civil union partner; how distributed.

Page 212: How adoption by civil union partner of a natural parent does not effect relationship between child and natural parent.

Page 213: Defines civil union and civil union partner in the Uniform Probate statute.

Pages 214 through 216: Complicated formulae for distributing elective share of a deceased civil union partner.

Page 217: Value of augmented estate includes nonprobate transfers to civil union partner.

Pages 217 through 224: Property transfered to civil union partner is part of probate.

Pages 224 through 226: More complicated probate jargon. Whatever it means, civil union partners are on the same footing as spouses and reciprocal beneficiaries.

Pages 226 through 228: Value of augmented estate includes property and nonprobate transfers to civil union partners.

Pages 228 through 230: Specifies which forms of property held or received by a civil union partner are excluded from probate.

Pages 230 through 232: How civil union matters affect the elective share amount. Um, yeah…

Pages 232 through 234: Deadline and notice requirements to request an elective share hearing.

Pages 234 through 238: Right of election personal of surviving civil union partner; incapacitated civil union partner.

Pages 239 through 241: Civil union partner right to homestead allowance, exempt property and/or family allowance may be waived.

Page 241: I have no idea, but it’s more probate law.

Pages 242 through 244: How a surviving civil union partner is affected by a pre-union will.

Page 244: Civil union partner entitled to homestead allowance, just as spouses and reciprocal beneficiaries are.

Page 245: Surviving civil union partner entitled to up to $10,000 of exempt property.

Pages 246 and 247: In addition to homestead and exempt property, a surviving civil union partner is entitled to an allowance for living expenses.

Page 248: Civil union partner may select property to be homestead allowance and exempt property if enough exists that is not “devised” in the will.

Page 249: An individual born to a natural parent is considered a child for estate purposes if the individual resided with the civil union partner of the parent as regular member of the household.

Pages 250 through 252: Civil union partner is not an “heir” if union is not in effect at the time a will takes effect.

Page 253: Civil union partner who feloniously kills his partner forfeits all inheritance.

Pages 254 through 264: Revocation of probate and nonprobate transfers by termination of civil union.

Pages 264 through 265: Civil union partners inserted into prioritized list of who may be appointed for probate matters.

Pages 265 through 270: Ciivl union partners and their significance in an application for formal or informal probate.

Page 270: Civil union partner to be given notice of formal or informal probate.

Page 271: Personal representative of decedent must observe the rights of claimants, including civil union partner, when distributing property.

Page 272: If personal representative engages in a transaction with his or her civil union partner that involves decedent’s property, then it is voidable by any person interested in the estate.

Page 273: Civil union partners have rights in “absence of administration.” Whatever that means.

Page 274: I don’t know how to summarize section 132 of the bill. It deals with probate.

Pages 275 and 276: Estate shall be distributed as the civil union partner selected (homestead and property exemption) or the will designated.

Page 277: If an heir is disabled or a minor, the property may be distributed to the heir’s civil union partner.

Pages 278 through 279: I don’t know how to summarize section 135 of the bill. It deals with probate.

Pages 279 through 282: How to handle estate if no known civil union partner or other relatives.

Page 282: A civil union partner may appoint guardians for a minor or incapacitated person.

Page 283: Letters of guardianship shall indicate if a civil union partner was appointed by the guardian or another authorized party.

Page 283: Guardianship appointed by a civil union partner terminates if will is denied probate.

Page 284: Again with the appointment of guardian for an incapacitated person.

Pages 284 through 286: An individual may assign in writing a guardian for civil union partner if the individual believes the partner is incapacitated, with limitations on the guardianship powers if desired. The assignment may be contested.

Pages 286 through 288: When a guardianship becomes effective.

Pages 288 through 290: Petitioners for appointment of guardianship need to provide name and address of petitioner’s civil union partner.

Pages 290 through 291: Civil union partners on par with spouses and reciprocal beneficiaries in list of priority for assigning guardians.

Pages 292 and 293: Seems a lot like pages 288 through 290, except in a different section of statute.

Pages 294 through 295: After notice to interested persons and upon authorization of court a conservator may exercise right to an elective share in the estate of a protected person’s deceased civil union partner.

Pages 295 through 296: Civil union partner inserted in prioritized list used by court in appointing conservator.

Pages 296 through 297: Deals with conflicts of interests involving conservatorship and civil union partners.

Pages 297 through 298: Surviving civil union partner may apply for an accounting for transfers to a multiple-party account. Right… I have no idea.

Pages 299 through 300: Pau with probate, moving on to Uniform Desertion and Non-Support chapter. Applies this act to civil union partners who desert dependents.

Page 300: Civil union partner may initiate a desertion proceeding.

Page 301: Civil union partner shall be competent and compellable witness at desertion proceeding, shall disclose confidential communication with partner; falling short of self-incrimination.

Page 302: Civil union partner inserted into definition of “family or household member” in Domestic Abuse Protective Order statute.

Page 302: Civil union partner considered a deceased persons next of kin under the chapter concerning availability of medical records.

Page 303: Rule 505 – Spousal privilege. Civil union partner considered a spouse.

Pages 304 through 305: Civil union partners added to “head of family” definition in the Attachment and Execution statute.

Page 306: Trespass or injury to a civil union partner is tortious.

Pages 306 through 307: Damages may be awarded to civil union partner for loss of society, companionship, comfort, etc. if partner dies due to trespass or injury by another.

Pages 307 through 308: Civil union partner of a deceased crime victim inserted into definition of “surviving immediate family member” to be notified in the event of release or final parole.

Page 308: Civil union partner of a deceased crime victim inserted into definition of “surviving immediate family member” which means they must be notified in the event of a prison escape involving the person responsible for the death.

Page 309: Establishes a defense to extortion if the owner of the property is the civil union partner, the property constitutes household belongings, and the parties were living together at the time. I mean, seriously, this is why people get married, right? Sheesh.

Page 309: Establishes a defense to theft if property belongs to civil union partner, is household belongings, and the parties were living together.

Page 310: Persistant nonsupport statute applied to civil union partners.

Page 310: Civil union partner included in definition of “family or household member” in the Abuse of Family or Household Members statute.

Page 311: Severability clause.

Page 312: Ramseyer language, effective dates.


  1. Dennis is being consistent with his religious views — I believe he opposed same sex marriage while in the House, as did other social progressives including Rev. Bob in the Senate. Some of the House Democrats who voted against the civil unions bills this year appear to have voted their House districts rather than their heartfelt views (I think all the Reps from Filipino/Catholic districts voted against the bill).

    Comment by SamGamgee — April 8, 2009 @ 9:17 am

  2. While Espero should be commended for making this effort, the time to get a compromise was when Bunda offered it. Then the bill would have gone to Conference, and if the Senate Leadership wanted to go with the House version of the bill, it would have been passed in the end.

    Gary Hooser forced the timing for his own reasons, but it backfired. He thought he would be a martyr for the issue, but he just looks unskilled, not well respected by his colleagues, and rash.

    It’s not like Jill Tokuda and Shan Tsutsui are anti-gay – they are young progressives, but they were pissed at his behavior.

    His colleagues now understand that he doesn’t bring any votes to the table, and (at least some) of the gay community realizes that it was the Senator from Kauai who forced the premature death of the bill. The red shirts are lucky that Gary was the their opponent, because next time it might be someone like Hee or Tsutsui who won’t be outmanuevered so easily.

    Comment by pro444 — April 8, 2009 @ 10:25 am

  3. Kudos, Doug, for undertaking that effort. And, my sympathies that, while you were still at it, proponents of civil unions began to float another draft, altho’ it’s unclear whether it has a sponsor like this one or any traction (not that this one does, either).

    There certainly are a lot of rights in here but but I can’t help but think that it really loses sight of the forest for the trees. That might become clearer if, as I think you mentioned in an earlier post somewhere, we knew what rights and obligations of marriage this draft does NOT include. It also makes painfully clear why, as a technical choice, the drafters of the HB 444 as introduced just did a substantive “global search and equate” of marriage and civil unions. Unfortunately, that gave the red-shirt haters a rallying point.

    The catalog of references to the term “marriage” may not be much more helpful as there are many other terms in the HRS (such as “family member,” only some instances of which are in the draft you digested) which clearly mean married persons but which are not necessarily referenced that way and should include civil union partners.

    What a mess, indeed. Unfortunately, so much of a mess that at least some legislatirs who might have been persudaed to vote for the original bill may just “glaze over” on this one. “Death by a thousand cuts” is where this is headed.

    Comment by Ohiaforest3400 — April 8, 2009 @ 11:46 am

  4. Tokuda and Tsutsui are facing re-election next year, along with Espero, Kim, Kokubun, Gabbard, Sakamoto, Taniguchi, Slom and Hemmings, who went against Hooser’s motion to pull the bill out of committee. Chun Oakland, Fukunaga, and Ihara are among those that chose to support Hooser even though they will be facing re-election in 2010.

    Comment by anonymous — April 8, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  5. Willie’s amendments are kind of silly because as you rightly point out, any rights conferred by the sessions law, case law, administrative rules, or county ordinances on marriage are not covered. Very lame. The Senate should just hank it, do an up or down vote and move on. But perhaps that’s the strategy, Willie is showing the absurdity of the absurd.

    Comment by line of flight — April 8, 2009 @ 8:06 pm

  6. Let me pose a different take on the timing of Hooser’s motion and note that I am not otherwise a fan of his (he always seems to be running for something but I can’t tell you any specific thing that he has done that would warrant him doing so).

    I think Hooser waited too long, not that he acted too soon. There was no real action on a proposed Senate draft to get the bill out of committee. That includes Tokuda and Tsutsui; young and progressive they may be; exercise leadership they did not. Meanwhile, the pressure kept building from the red shirt crowd and those with ambitions and or/fears (read Hanabusa, for example) were moving away from compromise, not towards it. The longer he waited, the weaker Hooser’s position got. It was only when he did SOMETHING that the others did ANYTHING. Had he waited much longer, and he may have waited too long as it was, the likelihood was that the clock would run out. That’s what ended up happening anyway.

    So, I’m not prepared to blame Hooser for the death of the bill. However, I will give him credit for forcing a bunch of self-serving, duplicitous cowards into a pathetic and failed attempt to hide behind “Senate procedure” or “the lack of time.” It’s a bitch having to stand up and be counted; if ya can’t stand the heat, get outta the kitchen!

    Comment by Ohiaforest3400 — April 8, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

  7. pro444′s comment above is just wrong.

    The notion that Hooser forced a recall prematurely is being advanced as an excuse by some senators seeking cover, but it falls apart under the slightest scrutiny. The prospects of JGO going back into decisionmaking in the hopes of producing a compromise bill were already dead BEFORE the motion to recall HB444. I spoke with Senator Bunda early in the afternoon shortly after the motion to pull failed. I asked him what amendments he might be willing to accept in order to make some advances towards equal protection of same sex couples.

    He said he preferred adding rights to the Reciprocal Beneficiaries law, but immediately added that he had no incentive to support ANY amended bill, since any such bill would go into conference where the House was likely to just reinsert the House’s preferred language and he would have ended up helping pass the civil unions bill he opposed.

    The senators have had two weeks since the motion to recall failed. They could have been working on developing the amendments they claimed they were interested in passing. While I disagree with Espero’s approach, I respect that he made a good faith effort to articulate his preferred vision. Brickwood Galuteria has likewise worked with Debi Hartman and others to come up with language.

    But where was the Senate leadership in all this? What effort did Hanabusa make to craft a compromise in the past two weeks if her claim about the need for more time is to be taken seriously? She refused to even meet with the advocates for civil unions for several crucial weeks, including the period before the motion was made to pull the bill and continuing until last Thursday. She now pretends to support the latest proposed version drafted mostly by the CU advocates, but (Oooops!, gosh darn!) now claims the amendments have come too late for consideration this year. Perhaps if she hadn’t been hiding out, she could have demonstrated some real leadership in the effort to pass the bill. Instead, she spent the time spreading doubts and confusion among senators and casting aspersions on Senator Hooser.

    I am aware a number of senators are feeling exposed by their vote against pulling the bill. Those who truly want to pass a civil unions bill still have a chance to choose to help pass the bill or to block its passage. The deadline for passing an amended bill have passed due to inept leadership in the Senate. Well, either due to inept leadership or due to a conscious desire to kill the bill.

    Those who believe the earlier motion to pull was premature until all possibilities to amend the bill were exhausted, now must face the fact that those possibilities are now exhausted. There were some good faith efforts to reach compromise, but the leadership failed to support those efforts. The only options now is for senators to choose: recall and pass HB444 HD1 this year or pretend the legislators will have MORE courage to vote for a controversial bill in 2010, an ELECTION year.

    Given that choice, no senator can credibly claim to support equal rights for gay couples while refusing to support a motion to recall. The senators will have a second bite at the apple–a chance to make things right. No place to hide, no excuses. Use the tools available to them to help expand justice for our fellow citizens, or turn away and consciously CHOOSE to perpetuate discrimination and second class citizenship for gay and lesbian citizens.

    The options are clear for each Senator. The choice is theirs to make.

    To recall the question from the old song, “Which side are you on, which side are you on?”

    Comment by Kolea — April 9, 2009 @ 12:16 am

  8. I think the best solution would be to remove all laws relating to marriage. In essence, de-legalize and de-criminalize marriage. The government should not be sponsoring marriage.
    I would support civil unions for both hetero and homo sexual couples. Leave marriage to those dumb enough to believe in god.

    Comment by Jesse Valentine Portz — April 9, 2009 @ 11:59 am

  9. @ohia,

    I just saw your comment above. I hadn’t seen it when I wrote my own.

    Hooser had intended to make the motion to pull a week earlier, but had been asked by Taniguchi and others to delay. So he gave them the extra week before recognizing any further delay was simply providing more time for Hanabusa to twist arms and pressure senators to abandon their support for the motion to recall the bill from committee.

    Hanabusa, Taniguchi, Tsutsui and others are now complaining Hooser’s motion was premature and he provides a convenient whipping boy/scapegoat for senators who resent where they now find themselves. I say the blame belongs to Hanabusa, not Gary, but since it is in the interest of the senators not to think ill of the Senate President, Gary is getting most of the blame from the senators, while Hanabusa is being blamed universally by the advocates for civil unions.

    Comment by Kolea — April 9, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

  10. Kolea,

    I figured as much (regarding the Hanabusa/Taniguchi request for delay). Hooser got played for trying to be the good guy; old “blue eyes” never saw it coming and, if he did, his pause just made it worse for himself (in terms of trying to win the motion). I also have to think that his remaining tenure as Majority Leader will be utterly ineffectual; how is he possibly going to lead a group of people who either stabbed him in the back or watched him bleed to death after someone else did?

    I understand three different pro-civil unions groups met with Hanabusa in the past day and she told them each something completely different as to why and how this all unfolded as it did. Just how stupid DOES she think people are? That they won’t talk to each other? She may not be one of the cowards referred to in my post above, but she certainly is one of the duplicitous scum.

    Ohia, o’dea, ai’kea

    Comment by Ohiaforest3400 — April 9, 2009 @ 5:19 pm

  11. I have talked with the seven people who visited Hanabusa Wednesday afternoon. I think it is somewhat overstated to say “she told them each something completely different.” She DID have to vary her arguments slightly, depending on who was in the room and she tried reworking her words as her arguments ran into resistance in the early meetings.

    In each meeting, she tried to convince them she had always supported the issue and had been engaged in a last ditch effort to pass through an amended version of the bill which satisfied some of the concerns of the senators. But, unfortunately, the clock had run out. Her hands were tied, there was nothing she could do. If only the amendments had come in earlier. Well, maybe next year.

    Checking with all seven, I was able to confirm that Hanabusa had repeatedly rejected multiple requests for meetings from the civil union advocates over the last couple of months. The only face to face meeting she had granted was before the bill crossed over from the House, where she pledged to work to pass the bill in the Senate IF it were to pass the House.

    Hanabusa had made statements to other senators and to the media suggesting she would support a recall motion after the JGO committee had a tied vote. Shortly thereafter, she started backpedalling, publicly casting doubts on the wisdom of pulling the bill. This led the leaders of the CU effort to again request a meeting to get a clear understanding of Hanabusa’s position. She refused to meet with them, which caused them to sit at the entrance of her office for hours, hoping to catch her for a brief word, but she ignored them. Her office manager told them “the senator doesn’t need to meet with you–she understands your position.” Yeah, but, we want to understand HER position!

    It became clear that the Senator’s position had changed and she did not have the guts or integrity to explain this to their faces. So when she NOW says “there may have been some mis-communications” or “It’s too bad the amendments weren’t worked out earlier,” these words ring hollow.

    Hanabusa did not consent to meet with any CU advocates until a week ago, Thursday, April 2nd. In that conversation, she finally offered some ideas on how the bill might be modified to win over some reluctant senators. Hanabusa appears to have believed it was too late for the amendments to be made, but the advocates took her words to mean they would have her support if they made a superhuman effort to draft an amended bill and they “burned the midnight oil, using Hanabusa’s suggestion to include opposite sex couples under the bill and the work done by Brickwood Galuteria, stripping out references to “marriage” and adopting a preamble which more explicitly said this was NOT marriage. They sent the bill to Blake Oshiro and House Judiciary chair Jon Riki Karamatsu to make sure the House was open to he amendments.

    Despite this work, Hanabusa did little to win acceptance of this new language by her colleagues. When put to the test, Bunda refused to support even Willie Espero’s amendments after having strung Espero along for weeks. (Espero was reportedly outraged and called Bunda a “chicken” to his face.)

    The three meetings with the CU advocates were an effort by Hanabusa to attempt damage repair with the LGBT and liberal community, as well as to gauge how damaged her relations with them were. From my conversations with those attending, she may have gotten a good estimate of how much trouble she is in, but any efforts to shift the blame to other senators like Hooser or Taniguchi, or to the Speaker, were unsuccessful.

    As a result of her poor handling of the civl unions bill, Hanabusa’s relations with the liberal and GLBT community are in tatters. From there, it is a very short path to the “women’s organizations” and to the Democratic Party’s active core. Beyond this, her reputation as a savvy, even “brilliant” legislative strategist has been destroyed. And her relations with her fellow senators is also greatly strained.

    In the “inner game” of Senate politics, the victors are Bobby Bunda, Mike Gabbard and Norm Sakamoto. And, in the background, Donna Kim, who may have been the senator most effective behind the scenes at convincing Hanabusa to betray her commitment to help pass the civil unions bill. The most convincing explanation of Hanabusa’s behavior is the suggestion that her Senate presidency was threatened by her support for civil unions. That strikes me as the best explanation. That would explain Taniguchi’s last minute betrayal of his commitment to support the recall.

    Hanabusa, Taniguchi and other fairweather friends of equality have suggested the bill might be passed next year. Nonsense. The senators are so afraid of red shirt this year. Next year, an election year, all it will take to scare them is the glimpse of a red ribbon or a pink blouse in the gallery.

    A lot of senators feel ashamed and guilty. Good. They should. A miserable and cowardly lot this year. (With a small few exceptions).

    Anyone who attempts to blame Gary Hooser for the failure of this bill either is ignorant of the MANY ignoble actions of many other senators, or is a close friend or staffer trying to provide cover for the failure of their prefered senator for acting courageously.

    No, Shan Tsutsui and Jill Tokuda are NOT “young progressives.” They are ambitious politicians who see more personal advantage in remaining loyal to the Senate President than in voting for what they pretend they believe in. Hopefully, the conflict they are now feeling will be a painful lesson and they will regain an ethical balance rather than abandon their conscience and turn completely to the dark side. Making excuses for them will only smooth their way towards that dark side.

    Comment by Kolea — April 10, 2009 @ 9:18 am

  12. Kolea, thank you for confirming my suspicions and for the information you provided in doing so. I admire your calm, almost dispassionate assessment of the situation. Were I as close to it as you appear to be, I doubt I could model the same behvior. Indeed, I got dinged by Derrick DePledge for my comments on his blog about Senator Kim’s attempt to strip terminated legislative staffers of their accrued vacation. Clearly, my spiritual practice needs work.

    DOUG: Lemme guess, Mr. DePledge scolded you offline, not in the comment forum itself, right?

    Comment by Ohiaforest3400 — April 10, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  13. Not just scolded me but deleted my post, and apparently those of others, because “[y]ou guys have been crossing the line with the name calling.” I guess he’s right, altho’ my post certainly didn’t violate the literal terms of the posting policy. When you’ve seen someone step on others for over 20 just for the pure pleasure of it, and then you see that person step very publicly on the people who work for her (and not being given to thanking those people, ever), it’s hard to hold back. He’s new/er in town, I guess, but I gave him credit for remaining civil with his corporate masters despite their similar disregard for him. He’s a professional, I should try to act like one, too, altho’ the difference is that I am writing as “John Q. Public,” not as a reporter/blogger. Hence, my compliments to Kolea, above. I will continue to try to do behave better.

    Comment by Ohiaforest3400 — April 11, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

  14. Ohia,

    I appreciate your compliments, but do not feel worthy of them.

    As an infant, I was abandoned by wolves and raised by Quakers. Hopefully, the Quaker influence sublimates my wolfiness into socially acceptable behavior.

    It varies, day by day.

    Comment by Kolea — April 12, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  15. Quite a contrast to the behaviors in “Republican” state of Vermont and “conservative” Iowa.

    Comment by stevelaudig — April 19, 2009 @ 1:27 am

  16. A Call for Truth – and for Action
    Over the past few weeks, increasing numbers of the majority of Hawai`i voters who support civil unions have been dismayed to hear Hawai`i State Senators offering flimsy excuses for their failure to bring the HB444 to the Senate floor for a vote.
    First, we constituents were told that recalling the bill from Committee would violate established Senate “procedures.” But this is transparently wrong. Senate Rule 52 specifically provide that, “[t]wenty days after a bill has been referred to a committee, the same may be recalled from such committee by the affirmative vote of one-third of the members of the Senate.” The Senate, it should be noted, did not make this Rule up on its own. It is taken, word for word, from the Hawaii State Constitution — Article III, Section 12.
    The recall provision was added to the Hawai`i Constitution to ensure that political shenanigans wouldn’t keep a bill from reaching the floor if a third of the House or the Senate membership wanted to bring it to a vote. It has been invoked many times, among these, ironically, in 1996, when Senator Bunda, who now argues that recalling the civil unions bill would violate “procedures,” voted to pull an anti-gay marriage provision from the same Senate Committee that is now holding the civil unions bill hostage.
    So much for “procedures.”
    Senate President Hanabusa has also attempted to convince her fellow Senators and their constituents that, if HB444 passes, the Hawai`i Supreme Court will hold it unconstitutional, because the bill does not call same sex unions “marriages.” This is a smoke screen. First, the Constitutional Amendment passed in 1998 removes from the Hawai`i Supreme Court the power to require that same-sex unions be called “marriages.” A state court can not hold a provision of its state constitution unconstitutional under that very same state constitution. Second, if it would violate the Hawai`i Constitution not to call same-sex civil unions “marriages,” how much more serious is it to deny same-sex couples the equal substantive rights that civil unions would provide? The argument makes no sense, and it is clearly being made to confuse and intimidate people who are not lawyers. Various professors from the U.H. Law School have already advised the Senate majority caucus that the argument lacks legal merit.
    Finally, now that all else is failing, constituents are being told that it’s just too late in the session to recall HB444. But not to worry, we are told, the Senate will take up the bill first thing next year. Right. Next year. Just before an election. Whatever it is you think we are smoking, here’s a news flash: we are not smoking it.
    Twelve Senators — English, Galuteria, Green, Hanabusa, Hee, Ige, Kokubun, Nishihara, Takamine, Taniguchi, and Tsutsui — claim that they support civil unions, but then they voted against pulling the bill from committee. In that committee, three Senators – Slom, Gabbard, and Bunda – are holding the bill hostage, even though a majority of Senators say they support and want to vote for it.
    So, why all this doubletalk about recalling the bill? Are Senators being strong-armed by leadership in furtherance of some backroom deal? If so, they should tell their constituents the truth and be done with it. Is the political kitchen too hot? If so, then they should just vote against the bill. But then please don’t complain about “activist judges” when LGBT people, who in the past weeks have in legislative hearings been variously compared to rapists, pedophiles, necropheliacs, and people who want to marry their dogs, and who have in those same hearings been called “unclean,” “illicit,” “diseased” and “depraved” — turn to the courts to protect their rights and their dignity.
    Enough with the double-talk. It’s for some candor – and some action. Those who support their lesbian and gay neighbors in the struggle for equal rights need to turn the heat on these Senators. HB444 should be recalled from the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee and brought to a vote on the Senate floor.

    Comment by Lehuamamo — April 20, 2009 @ 1:32 am

  17. Profiles in Cowardice

    Comment by stevelaudig — April 20, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

  18. Sign the petition asking the Hawaii Senate to bring the vote on HB444 to the floor.


    Comment by rachel — April 24, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

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