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January 25, 1997

Dueling Constitutional Amendments

This week the Hawaii House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment that empowers the Legislature to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples (HB 117).  The House also passed a "reciprocal beneficiary" bill that gives less than 1% of the rights of marriage to couples who are denied marriage rights.  Four specific rights of marriage are made available, provided the constitutional amendment is approved by the voters (Nov. 1998).  These rights would be available to a variety of couples: a mother and a son, a father and a daughter, two siblings, as well as lesbian or gay couples.
The four rights would be:

  1. Hospital visitation and the right to make medical decisions
  2. Tenancy in the entirety
  3. Certain rights of inheritance in probate court if a reciprocal beneficiary dies intestate (about 3% per year of reciprocity, sometimes 4%, to a maximum of 50%)
  4. The right to sue for wrongful death
Senators Matt Matsunaga and Avery Chumbley have introduced SB 1800 to also allow the state to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.  SB 1800 would add the following language to Article IX of Hawaii's Constitution:
The State shall have the power to regulate and define the institution of marriage, including the reservation of marriage to couples of the opposite sex; provided that this reservation shall be effective only if the laws of the State ensure that the application of this reservation does not deprive any person of civil rights on the basis of sex.
Hearings have not yet been announced on SB 1800.

The key difference in the two CA's:  under the House version, civil rights exist at the whim of the legislature.  Under the Senate version, equal rights under the law with no discrimination based on sex are kept in the Constitution.
 

                        Best Regards,

                        Tom Ramsey
                        President, Friends of h.e.r.m.p
                        Ex-Officio, h.e.r.m.p Steering Committee
 

How To Help?

  1. Write Gov. Ben Cayetano, Hawaii State Capitol, Honolulu, HI 96813 to describe how much money you plan to spend in Hawaii on your eventual wedding, or how much you'd like to visit a state that is supportive of all people.  Be polite and courteous.  Do not threaten anything.
  2. Hawaii is many things, most of them unknown outside of the State.  For example, the cost of living is very high here (like Alaska) and incomes are relatively low.  MOST FAMILIES HAVE THREE OR FOUR JOBS TO MAKE ENDS MEET.  This means (a) they don't have money to give to civil rights causes and (b) they don't have time.  ALL OF THE CURRENT MEMBERS OF THE HERMP STEERING COMMITTEE HAVE AT LEAST TWO JOBS, AND GIVE THEIR TIME TO HERMP ON TOP OF THAT.  Please be generous to

  3.                        h.e.r.m.p
                           PO Box 11690
                           Honolulu, HI 96828
  4. Hawaii is the most intense media-oriented market in the United States.  Most people here relate to the political process through the media (which isn't surprising, if you have two jobs and catch it all on the car radio on your ways to work).  Recently, the faculty union of the University of Hawaii spent over $200,000 on a TV ad campaign to persuade the governor to complete negotiations on a contract that had expired over 18 months ago.  The TV campaign worked.  THAT'S HOW BUSINESS IS DONE HERE.  Please be generous to

  5.                        Friends of h.e.r.m.p
                           PO Box 11690
                           Honolulu, HI 96828.

    Friends of h.e.r.m.p is non-profit (501(c)4), not tax-deductible, and created to make a media presence for the truth about marriage rights.

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