Governor Linda Lingle

Hawaii’s governor has been denounced for vetoing a civil union bill that would have officially recognised same-sex couples in that state.

“There has not been a bill I have contemplated more or an issue I have thought more deeply about during my eight years as governor than House Bill 444 and the institution of marriage,” Governor Linda Lingle told reporters at a news conference.

“I have been open and consistent in my opposition to same-sex marriage, and find that House Bill 444 is essentially same-sex marriage by another name,” she added.

The bill, which generated much controversy in Hawaii, was passed by lawmakers in April. Lingle had until yesterday to veto the bill or allow it to become law.

She made her decision during protests by both supporters and opponent of same-sex marriage rights outside the Hawaii State Capitol building in Honolulu.

A coalition of LGBT rights group had worked since 2008 to build support for the bill, generating tens of thousands of phone calls, emails, postcards and handwritten letters urging legislators and the Governor to approve the legislation.

“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.

“We fail to see how the Governor’s actions are in the best interest of Hawaii’s future and are nothing more than political manoeuvring at the expense of people’s lives. We’re disappointed and outraged that same-sex families will not be treated equally under Hawaii law, but vow to come back and fight this fight another day.”

Currently, only five states and the District of Columbia recognise marriage for same-sex couples under state law in the US. Five other states provide same-sex couples with access to state benefits through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights or benefits in any state in the US.

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