(CNN) – Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a civil unions bill Tuesday that would have given same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, saying the issue needs to be put to a referendum.
"I am vetoing this bill because I have become convinced that this issue is of such significant societal importance that it deserves to be decided directly by all the people of Hawaii," said Lingle, a Republican whose term ends this year.
"The subject of this legislation has touched the hearts and minds of our citizens as no other social issue of our day. It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials."
Gay rights group decried Lingle's decision.
"Today was the first time a civil unions bill passed both Houses in Hawaii by solid margins and was on the Governor's desk for signing," Jo-Ann Adams, chair of the GLBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said in a statement. "With such broad support from the legislators, who are the elected officials closest to the public, and the consistent results of the professional polls showing broad support for civil unions as a civil rights issue, we are deeply disappointed that the Governor ignored the will of the people and vetoed the bill. "
Another group, Equality Hawaii, said the fight for equal rights will continue.
"Today is a sad day for the thousands of Hawaii families who remain second class citizens," said Alan Spector, legislative affairs co-chair for Equality Hawaii.
The governor said she understands why supporters of the bill are upset by her decision.
"This is a decision that should not be made by one person sitting in her office or by members of the Majority Party behind closed doors in a legislative caucus, but by all the people of Hawaii behind the curtain of the voting booth," Lingle said in a statement.
"And while some will disagree with my decision to veto this bill, I hope most will agree that the flawed process legislators used does not reflect the dignity this issue deserves, and that a vote by all the people of Hawaii is the best and fairest way to address an issue that elicits such deeply felt emotion by those both for and against."
When the bill passed in April, civil union supporters cheered in the Capitol rotunda. But Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona said at the time lawmakers shouldn't have approved the measure.
"If the legislature wanted to establish the equivalent of same-sex marriage, they should have put it on the ballot for the people to decide," he said then.
Some religious groups had urged the governor to veto the legislation.
"We need you to mount a campaign to flood the governor's office with requests to veto the bill," Larry Silva, Catholic bishop of Honolulu, wrote on the diocese of Honolulu's website at the time.
Five U.S. states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hawaii would join New Jersey in allowing civil unions.
Three states - Rhode Island, New York, and Maryland - recognize same-sex marriages from other states, according to the conference.
California recognizes same-sex marriages performed during six months in 2008 after its Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to marry and before the passage of Proposition 8, which overturned the court's decision.
Shame on her. I would ask if she had done the same when interracial marriages were fighting for their rights. She is like all republicans, evil and with no hearts in their chests.
What a cowardly response from this Governor. Since when does the public get to vote on the specific rights of a minority. Hawaii should be very embarassed that this is who leads them.
It needs to go to the Supreme court once and for all, and see if the Justices can manipulate the constitution to keep equal rights from gay people who pay taxes, obey the laws, and haven't demeaned anyone in the name of "christianity".
Why is this surprising? Republicans will fight gay marriage and even civil unions with every trick at their disposal. Republicans, who claim to stand up for individual freedom, are only about freedom for themselves and tyranny for everyone else.
So much for the States Rights, Governor Lingle. You caved to outside interests letting your own state decide what it wanted to do, all the while trying to cloak your bigotry in populism.
Why do Republicans hate America?!
Why not let the public vote on everything? Women's right to vote, slavery, etc. We don't because we know that the majority cannot infringe on the rights of minorities. This governor is full of crap. She clearly has a negative view of gay people but has tried to shield us from it. She was in the "I don't believe in gay marriage but support civil unions" camp until civil unions almost became a realty. Now she uses the excuse that we have to let the people vote. She's only trying to deflect the reality that she is anti-gay.
This Governor is 500% RIGHT.
This issue need always to be put on a referendum and decide by the people of each state.
We are a democratie and for contreversial social issues what the majority want is the law. period.
If majority decide against civil union, gays are free to join other societties where civil union is allowed it's as simple as that.
That is what living in a society is all about. It's not hate.
Bad decision, governor. There may be states in the US whose overall population would still vote to repress the rights of African-Americans. By your logic, that would be okay.
The governor's true prejudice is showing.
I guess she thinks Hawaii can afford a LGBT boycott?
Bravo Govenor Lingle! Like your colleague from the Great State of Arizona, you exhibit courageous leadership in the face of liberal-Democrat pressure!
It is suppose to be the American way–voters deciding what they want. But california and other states that voted it down are now being sued.
Whats up with that??
Yeah, leave it to the people – BULL!
If we had left the decision to end slavery to the people – we wouldn't have ended it. This governor is too concerned about herself, her political career to do the right thing and bring equality and justice for all.
Go GOP, now that makes sense!
The "will of the people" only seems to apply when the voters agree with the gay-rights crowd. In California the "will of the people" was loud and clear against same-sex marriage and yet the voters decision is being challenged in court. Can't have it both ways.
Typical Republican, keep government out of our business except for our personal lives such as who we live with, our religion.
This issue is not going to impact 90% of the voters despite their "deep emotions." But it will significantly impact (for the better) the lives on those same sex couples who would get to partake in the civil unions. At the middle of the 20th century, the majority were opposed to interracial marriage. Would it have been the "right thing" to let the voters decide then? The truth is, what is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right.
An elected official without a back bone is so common these days. Hey I have a idea lets vote of the the right to die, let that up to the voters. While we are at it lets vote on who lives also. Sounds stupid, but it is stupid to have the public vote on any law.
Finally a governor who recognizes that two men or two women cannot produce children. Is she the first? What a travesty of society that the US is intimidated by people who want to pretend that they are a "couple". It is sickening to see two men adopt children and pretend they are a family. God made male and female to be parents because He equipped us differently. Just imagine children being brought up by parents who are instilled with only testosterone or only with female hormones. What kind of whacked-out world are we fostering nowadays in the societal experimentation of all is good and everyone is good. All of us have our own skills and potentials, but we need to be respectful of Nature along the way. Men are not good mothers, and women are not good fathers, period. Get real!
I wonder how many people will cancel plans for vacations in Hawaii because of this veto.....
Excellent decision, let the people decide.
I personally don't believe in gay marriage. But on the other hand, I don't see how I, as an individual, can pass any kind of judgement on someone else. Who am I to tell someone else what they can or can't do in their personal lives. People always talk about "individual freedoms", but you want to vote on someone else's individual freedom. I just believe allowing the public to vote on someone else's right will open the floodgates to more. I.E. There are still people that believe interracial marriage is wrong. What's to stop them from bringing that up to a vote. Anyway, this is where I believe Government should not be in people's lives.
It's about time someone let the population of Hawaii have a direct say in government considering how dominated Hawaii's business and politics is by white/mainland corporations and landowners. Unfortunately, the precedence is being set with a bill that has minimal importance to that particular oppressed minority.
Ironically, a republican is giving the disenfranchised this say.
Another cheap republican = Linda Lingle. No class. She'd rather get re-elected than do the right thing for thousands of human beings.
If someone does the right thing in the wrong way, one individual should take it upon herself to undo that right thing? You've got some real messy morality there governor. It's a good thing we didn't put the rights of african-americans up to a vote. We'd still be voting today in some states whether or not they should have equal rights.
A general majority should never be allowed to vote on the rights of minorities. If this was allowed, we'd still have separate but equal laws, and women might not be able to vote. Interracial marriage would probably be illegal.
here is a governor that simply does not understand the way our system of government works. she needs an ed-u-kay-shun.
the people that are the citizens of Hawaii "elect" the legislators to represent them in the legislature, the body of "elected" officials charged with the duty of creating the laws that guarantee the people of Hawaii with the ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness.
after the legislature writes the bill, they vote on it to confirm that the majority of the "elected" officials, who represent the people of the state of Hawaii, agree with its intent. then, having passed that condition, the bill is sent to the governor to either approve or veto the bill. it is up to the governor to decide if the bill is lawful or not based on thier own judgement.
the whole idea is that this is the process of democracy. this governor is a chicken weasel republican that is bowing to the pressure of the religeous right in order to maintain her support in terms of money and votes, regardless of the fact that the "elected" officials of Hawaii that represent the majority of the people have determined that same sex couples deserve equal rights under the law.
she must have a coconut in for a brain, coming from Hawaii and all...