NEW YORK – Evan Wolfson, Founder and President of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, issued this reaction to the passage of a bill that once approved by the State Senate would create civil union for same-sex couples in Hawaii. Wolfson was co-counsel in the landmark Hawaii marriage case, Baehr v. Miike, which in the 1990s launched the current nationwide conversation around the freedom to marry.
“By again resoundingly passing a civil union bill that Governor Neil Abercrombie has promised to sign, Hawaii’s legislature acted to acknowledge the state’s loving and committed gay and lesbian couples and their families and to provide them a measure of protections under the law – protections of particular importance during these tough economic times. This is a victory for all families, because it strengthens the lives of many couples and their loved ones while taking nothing away from anyone else, thereby strengthening the entire ohana, the entire community. Freedom to Marry applauds Equality Hawaii for its leadership in securing needed protections for Hawaii’s families.
“While a welcome step, civil union is no substitute for the full measure of respect, clarity, security, responsibilities, and protection of marriage itself. States that have created civil union as a means of both giving and withholding – providing legal protections while withholding the freedom to marry and all its meaning – have found that civil union falls far short of marriage with all its tangible and intangible significance in our lives. Many of those states – Connecticut, New Hampshire, and even Vermont, which first created civil union – have since pushed past civil union to marriage, recognizing the inadequacy and unfairness of a separate and unequal status.
“Loving and committed same-sex couples have the freedom to marry in 12 countries on four continents – as well as in 5 states and the District of Columbia here at home – and the sky has not fallen and the sun continues to rise every morning. As soon as the governor signs the final bill, Hawaii should move swiftly to finish the job by ending exclusion from marriage itself, allowing all committed couples to share in the same responsibilities, same respect, and same rules.”
Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.