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Hawaii Dems Reprimand Sen. Gabbard

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A reprimand has been upheld against Hawaii state senator Mike Gabbard. State Democrats found that the senator worked in opposition to a civil unions bill, going against the party's platform in support of equal rights.

Gabbard, an outspoken opponent of marriage equality in the '90s, was reprimanded by Oahu Democrats for sending an e-mail that said he would encourage other members in the senate to oppose civil unions.

Gabbard claims he was representing the views of his constituents in actively opposing civil unions."He said he would actively work to encourage his colleagues to do something. That's very different than a member of the legislature voting on an issue because his constituents feel a particular way," Debi Hartmann, chair of Oahu Democrats, said.

Reprimands are the least severe punishments for senators, who can also face censure or expulsion.

The party's stance on civil rights and equal rights supports "equal access to fundamental rights including but not limited to marriage, privacy, and a woman's right to choose."

The civil unions bill would give same-sex partners who enter into civil unions the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as married couples under state law. It also states that same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships performed in other states would be considered civil unions in Hawaii.

The bill remains alive in the senate for the next session.

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