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NEWS BRIEFS: Hawaii to legalize civil unions; Md. voters oppose ‘gay marriage’

HONOLULU (BP)–Hawaii soon will become the seventh state to legalize same-sex civil unions or their equivalent after its state senate Feb. 16 passed a bill by a vote of 18-5, sending it to Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who has pledged to sign it.

The bill will grant homosexual couples all the state legal benefits of marriage, minus the name. Critics said it was simply a stepping stone to “gay marriage” itself, and they pointed to other states — Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont — that recognized civil unions before legalizing “gay marriage.” The Hawaii house had passed it, 31-19. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats.

Opponents also warned the bill would lead to homosexual relationships being taught in elementary school.

“I think we’ve just got to keep an eye out to see if that actually happens or if the schools try to put in some of these agendas that are indoctrinating our children,” former Honolulu city councilman Gary Okino said, according to the Star-Advertiser newspaper. “It’s kind of a wait-and-see and trying to make sure they don’t take any kind of action to actually change that to same-sex marriage.”

Six other states recognize civil unions or their counterpart, domestic partnerships: California, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Five other states recognize “gay marriage”: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. The District of Columbia also recognizes “gay marriage.”

MD. VOTERS SAY MARRIAGE ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN — A majority of Maryland voters believe marriage should be defined only as between a man and a woman, according to a poll released Feb. 17. The poll, commissioned by the National Organization for Marriage and conducted by Lawrence Research, found that voters affirm the traditional definition by a margin of 53-47 percent. Voters were asked, “Should marriage be between a man and a woman, or should it also be available to same-sex couples?” The survey interviewed 600 voters Jan. 27-Feb. 7. Additionally, by a 78-14 percent margin, voters say that they, and not the legislature, should decide the issue.

A poll by a separate polling company in January had found voters supporting “gay marriage” by a 51-44 percent, but that survey used what critics called biased language, asking those surveyed if they favored giving same-sex couples “the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples in areas such as tax exemptions, inheritance and pension coverage.”

The Maryland legislature is expected to take up a “gay marriage” bill in the next week. The National Organization for Marriage opposes the bill.

“The results of this poll strongly affirm that we are on the right side of Maryland voters,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. “Not only do voters support marriage by a 17-point margin, but they reject the legislature’s efforts to impose this without public input.”
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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