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Hawaii governor Linda Lingle will announce at a news conference to be webcast at 3 p.m. Honolulu time whether she will sign or veto the civil unions bill, which has been on her desk since April. If she chooses to do neither, the bill will automatically become law.
Lingle, who opposes marriage equality, has stayed fairly quiet about House Bill 444, which would extend civil unions to both same- and opposite-sex couples. Speaking to the press on Monday, she suggested that she made her decision.
"I really thought about this more than I thought about any other piece of legislation and any other issue that's faced society," Lingle said. "I don't know the exact number but I think it's running 60-40 against [civil unions] but as I'm going to talk about tomorrow -- that isn't what helped me to make a decision on this it was really the depth of feeling on both sides -- so I look forward to sharing that with everybody tomorrow."
Over the past couple weeks, civil union advocates have done their best to win the governor's support. On Friday members of a coalition of LGBT groups delivered 7,500 letters, postcards, and petition signatures in favor of the legislation. They also presented her with the results of a 2009 poll showing support for civil unions.
"I think the governor has been very deliberate in her consideration of the bill," Tony Wagner of the Human Rights Campaign told the Honolulu Star Advertiser. "She's done a really good job in listening to all sides, and we want to give her all the information possible to make an informed decision."
Lingle will not face fear of an override if she does decide to veto the bill. Lawmakers on Friday announced they do not plan to go into a special override session, regardless of Lingle's decision. According to Equality Hawaii, Lingle's decision is expected at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time.
The Honolulu Civil Beat is reporting that former state supreme court justice Steven Levinson, who authored a 1993 decision that declared Hawaii's ban on marriage equality unconstitutional, has been invited to Lingle's announcement. Also invited was Susie Roth, wife of former Lingle advisor Randy Roth and a proponent of HB444.