Better Know An Anti-LGBT Senate Candidate: Former Gov. Linda Lingle (R-HI)

Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R)

Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R)

Fourth in a series examining how anti-LGBT Senate candidates have worked to hurt the cause of equality.

With her primary win earlier this month, former Gov. Linda Lingle (R-HI) will be the Republican nominee against Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) for the open seat of retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka (D). Unlike Hirono, a 100 percent supporter of LGBT equality, Lingle has opposed the LGBT community on several major issues.

Over her time as Mayor of Maui County, Hawaii GOP chair, and as Governor:

1. Lingle has consistently and vocally opposed marriage equality. In her unsuccessful first run for Governor in 1998, her website noted that “Our state should not legalize same-sex marriage.” She endorsed a 1998 state constitutional amendment that allowed the legislature to ban same-sex unions. In a 1997 interview, she argued that marriage discrimination will always be permissible because it is currently popular, saying marriage equality “cannot ever be adopted in Hawaii because the people don’t support it. They simply don’t support it.” In 2002, when she mounted her successful second campaign for governor, her website debunked any rumor that she might support equal marriage, boasting “Linda Lingle opposes same-sex marriage, and in 1998 voted to preserve traditional marriage.”

2. Lingle demonstrated “unwarranted cruelty” when vetoing a civil unions bill. In 2010, Lingle vetoed a civil unions bill that passed the state legislature, arguing that it was “essentially marriage by another name,” and should be decided by referendum. Making matters worse, she invited LGBT activists to attend her announcement ceremony, only to devastate them with her decision. Donald L. Bentz, executive director of Equality Hawaii, told ThinkProgress that Lingle made “an inhumane spectacle.” Activists were told on arrival “you’ll be seated with the media, you are not allowed to react, there will be no questions. If you react in any way, shape or form, you’ll be escorted out of the conference.” Supporters were not even permitted to cry from the disappointment. Her successor, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), signed a similar civil unions bill into law in 2011.

3. Lingle refused to sign a hate-crimes bill. While she allowed the bill to become law without her signature, Lingle refused to sign a 2003 bill to add gender identity to the state’s hate crimes protections. Though members of Hawaii’s transgender community testified about the intimidation and attacks they had experienced, Lingle dismissed the importance of the bill, explaining that she did not sign the measure because “It was just not something that I felt strongly about.”

4. Lingle vetoed non-discrimination protections for transgender Hawaiians. In 2005, the state legislature passed House Bill 1450, a bill to ban employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. Lingle vetoed the bill, calling it “objectionable because it contains no limiting terms or interpretational guidelines” and could lead to “controversy and unwarranted lawsuits.” Her successor, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), signed a similar non-discrimination bill into law in 2011.

Watch Lingle announce her veto of a civil unions bill:

Lingle pledges on her 2012 campaign site that “No matter who proposes an idea, law, rule or regulation: if it’s good for Hawaii and our people, then I’ll be for it. If it’s not in our interests, then I’ll be against it. You have my commitment on that.” Her record would suggest that she does not believe that principal applies to LGBT Hawaiians. Her election to the U.S. Senate would be a huge threat to LGBT people and families.