Hawaii Civil Unions - How's It Going?

Aloha all,

Yesterday I wrote down a number of questions about Hawaii Civil Unions. Today I received a call back from The Governor's Office and a suggestion to call the State Legislator Blake Oshiro, who could shed more light on the questions. I had a long talk with Rena at Mr. Oshiro's office who was very frank and informative. Here are the answers I received form her:

1. When will couples who want a HCU be able to obtain a license?
January 2, 2012

Although the Honolulu Advertiser said that marriage license would be issued by December 3rd, that isn't really the case. The pre-application process would start December 3rd, so that couples could get all their information into the State's system early due to an expected over-whelming response. The couples would still have to obtain the license, which would only be possible on January 2nd as January 1st is a Holiday.

2. Where do they go to obtain the license?
Department of Health

Speaking about the DOH Office in Honolulu. Although she said it would probably be handled the same way that marriage licenses are issued here, so though independent marriage license agents.

3. How much is it?
That hasn't been determined yet

The Task force is meeting to hammer out all the details, but she said that there may be an additional fee associated with HCU licenses. She invited me to call her back in mid-November for more answers after the Task Force has had 2 more meetings.

4. Who is required to preside over the Solemnization of the Union?
I didn't ask her this one, but the law states:

(a) A civil union shall become valid only upon completion of a solemnization by a person licensed in accordance with this section.
(b) Any judge or retired judge, including a federal judge or judge of another state who may legally join persons in chapter 572 or a civil union, may solemnize a civil union. Any ordained or licensed member of the clergy may solemnize a civil union. Solemnization may be entirely secular or may be performed according to the forms and usages of any religious denomination in this State. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require any person authorized to perform solemnizations of marriages or civil unions to perform a solemnization of a civil union, and no such authorized person who fails or refuses for any reason to join persons in a civil union shall be
subject to any fine or other penalty for the failure or refusal.

5. Does a HCU only, "extend the same rights, benefits, protections & responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union" in the state of Hawaii, or does it extend these elsewhere? Only in Hawaii

Although she didn't state if it would be recognized by other states who have legalized Same-sex Marriage and/or Civil Unions, only that it would be recognized in Hawaii. What other states recognize is up to those states.

6. If a couple does not reside in Hawaii, what benefits & responsibilities are extended to them? None?

7. If a Hawaii resident couple who have a HCU decide to dissolve their union, what are the criteria for that? Do they need to obtain a divorce?
Yes, they would need to file the same papers (or special papers for this reason) to obtain a divorce.

8. If a couple who has had a HCU who do not live in Hawaii or in a state that recognizes civil unions or same sex marriage, decides to dissolve their union what do they have to do?
They would have to divorce in Hawaii

She did not state weather they would actually have to come back to Hawaii for the divorce, and said she was pretty sure that they would just have to file papers.

9. What is the difference between same sex marriage and a HCU?
It's the same

The words same-sex marriage were, for political reasons, not used, and the term Civil Union was used as there are a lot of conservative democrats in the Hawaii legislature, so the "Civil Union" phrase was used as a first step. But, essentially they are both the same by providing the same rights, benefits & responsibilities to Civil Union couples as they do to spouses in marriage.


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