Monday, June 21, 2010

Can Businesses Influence Vote on Hawaii Civil Unions Bill?

From The Advocate: Hawaii governor Linda Lingle [pictured] is expected to include the state’s civil unions bill — passed by the legislature in April — on a potential veto list on Monday. The list doesn’t mean she’s decided to veto the bill, just that she’s considering doing so.

But, as reports, a number of big businesses are urging the governor to sign the bill, which would open civil unions to both same- and opposite-sex couples. Those businesses include the Hawaii Medical Service Association (the state’s largest health insurer), Time Warner Cable, Marriott International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, March & McLennan Companies, and Aon Corp.

These companies were no doubt influenced by a report from the University of California, Los Angeles's Williams Institute, which determined civil unions would mean a financial boon for Hawaii. Same-sex couples alone would spend between $4.2 million and $9.5 million on civil union celebrations over the next four years, the institute estimates.

Those numbers haven’t convinced all business people, however. The Hawaii Business Roundtable, made up of executives who hope to promote economic vitality and “social health,” urged Lingle to veto the bill.

The governor has until July 6 for her final decision. If she does not act, civil unions will then become law.

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