Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle: ‘First Cousins Couldn’t Marry, Or A Brother And A Sister And That Sort Of Thing’

Hawaii governor took to the radio airwaves a few days ago to discuss her veto of the same-sex civil unions bill in that state last week, which the Maui Times appropriately referred to as a big giant "Fail." A highlight from that interview is below.

6a00d8341c730253ef013484a7613c970c LINGLE: "For those people who want to makes this into a civil rights issue, and of course those in favor of the bill, they see it as a civil rights issue. And I understand them drawing that conclusion. But people on the other side would point out, well, we don’t allow other people to marry even — it’s not a civil right for them. First cousins couldn’t marry, or a brother and a sister and that sort of thing. So there are restrictions, not to put it in the exact same category. But the bottom line is, it really can’t be a civil right if we are restricting it in other cases, and it’s been found to be legal in those other cases, that the restrictions."

A caller named Joe phoned in to inform Lingle that he could, if he so desired to, marry his cousin in Hawaii.

JOE: "And the second point is, Gov. Lingle, you talked about restrictions on marriage. I have a first cousin named Kate, and I’m looking on the Department of Health website for Hawaii, and I could marry my cousin Kate in Hawaii, but I cannot marry the love of my life in Hawaii, so — or in terms of a civil union with him. So, I hope you will take that into consideration. [...]"

LINGLE: "Whether or not a first cousin can marry in Hawaii, I’ll have to go back and check. I don’t know that that’s untrue, but let me go back and check on that."

Lingle also went on to say that "it's not about a decision for individual couples, it's about the impact it has on society."

Listen to her explain herself AFTER THE JUMP.

Also, in an editorial published today, the Hawaii Star-Advertiser criticized Lingle: "One of the biggest differences between civil unions and marriage are social ones. Civil unions are nothing more than a mechanism to provide legal rights and responsibilities to a couple, whereas marriage is a social institution with deeply held meaning. Civil unions are a class apart—children don't dream of getting "unionized" when they grow up. And there are few who would trade their marriages for a civil union. Gov. Lingle's second assertion that the issue is too important to be decided by the Legislature, despite that the Hawaii Constitution requires legislative action, is patently false. The rights of a minority should never be subjected to the tyranny of the majority and this is exactly what the governor is suggesting. Imagine if a voter referendum had been applied to past issues in history. Congress would not have been able to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the U.S. Supreme Court would not have been able to overturn state bans on interracial marriage in 1967."

(Think Progress via Good As You)