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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 2, 2010

No early decision on civil unions

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Gov. Linda Lingle

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Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday said she would likely take the full amount of time she has available to consider whether to sign, veto or allow a civil-unions bill to become law without her signature.

Lingle has until July 6 to take action. But if she intends to veto the bill, she must notify the state Legislature 10 working days before the deadline, or by June 21.

The governor, who has met with supporters and opponents of the bill, said she wants to choose the right words when she makes her decision so as not to diminish either side.

"It's a difficult decision, just which side to come down on. But I think it's at least equally difficult as to how do you communicate that to the public," Lingle told reporters at the state Capitol.

"This is something that people feel very strongly about on both sides. I've had a chance to meet and get to know people on both sides of this, and I don't want whatever decision I make to in any way diminish one side or the other or make one side or the other feel I'm being judgmental in any way.

"So that's going to take me time. As you know, words are important, they are important to me, and I want to get it right, whatever my decision is."

The bill would give same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.

Lingle has said she considers civil unions, as described in the bill, as equivalent to same-sex marriage, which she opposes.

Lingle is leaving Friday on a two-week trade and tourism promotion trip to China and Japan. The trip includes the promotional "Hawai'i Week" at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

The governor said Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona may take action on legislation while she is away but said he would not act on civil unions.

Aiona is an opponent of civil unions and has urged Lingle to veto the bill.