Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle vetoed House Bill 444 last week that would allow same-sex couples to enter civil unions. While the move has won praise from social conservatives, it has also prompted calls for tourism boycotts and has led gay rights advocates to threaten to file a lawsuit against the state.
Among the groups that are putting their lawyers to work are Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which said the veto violates Hawaii’s constitution that guarantees equal protection under the law.
"A lawsuit that’s about securing more legal protections for people who need them can also be a vehicle for prompting people to talk about what equal means," said Jenny Pizer, director of Lambda Legal’s Marriage Project, quoted by The Sirius XM Out Q news blog.
"What does free and equal mean in our society?" she asked.
However, Peter Sprigg, of the conservative Family Research Council, thanked Lingle for her veto, saying that it prevents the gay rights movement from proceeding with the "deconstruction of marriage as a unique social institution."
He said the state should protect marriage because it brings social benefits, while homosexual relationships do not.