Sent to me from the FEC:

The emotional roller coaster of this year's legislative session came to a close Thursday with a mixed bag of joy, sorrow, elation and frustration.

As you all know by now, yesterday we managed to get our civil unions bill pulled from the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee and sent to the full Senate floor for a vote. Unfortunately, once it was pulled to the floor, a group of Senators managed to amend it, and subsequently passed it on “second reading” in its amended form.

In order for an amended bill to become law, the Senate requires 48 hours notice before a “third reading.” Since the legislative session ends on Saturday, there is not sufficient time to complete this process. This amendment was a deliberate attempt to once again stall our bill for 2009. The bill remains alive and when the session resumes in January 2010, “third reading” and the necessary conferencing with the House can occur.

The Hawaii Equality Movement Is Back On The Map Again…

Despite the fact that we did not pass our bill in 2009, this was certainly a year of great achievement for our community. We built a brand new, large, diverse and effective grassroots coalition. We formed alliances with labor, faith communities, professional associations, legal advocacy organizations and ethnic communities including Native Hawaiian, Japanese and Filipino.

At every step, we came together as a community. We educated the public, the legislators and, for many of us, engaged in the legislative process for the first time. Our perseverance and hard work paid off. We advanced the civil unions bill farther than anyone expected. Our victory in passing it out of the House is unprecedented for a new organization in its very first legislative session. We also managed to keep it alive in the Hawaii Senate until the very end, despite enormous obstacles.

We cannot lose sight of these significant gains. We came so close to passing civil unions this year. Did any of us think that was possible one year ago? The hard work of all of our volunteers is the reason for this success.

We Must Stay United…

We cannot let Thursday's vote discourage or damper our drive to bring equality to Hawaii. We have already received commitments from Senators that the bill will be addressed “immediately” in the next legislative session.

Next Steps…

All of us would be well served to take a brief respite so we can recover and get our strength back. Our opponents would like us to simply go away, but that will never happen. Family Equality Coalition remains dedicated to achieving equal marriage rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their families in Hawaii. Please be assured that we are exploring all options to achieve this equality in Hawaii and are actively collaborating with the top experts and organizations.

We ask that you keep up the fight with us and don't lose hope. Remember, Harvey Milk didn't get elected until his fourth campaign. He kept marching on until victory, as must we!

Alan Spector & Paul Gracie
Family Equality Coalition




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