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Business group says it is not against civil unions

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The Hawaii Business Roundtable, which has come under internal criticism for urging Gov. Linda Lingle to veto a civil-unions bill, sent a second letter to the governor today making it clear the group has not taken a position against civil unions.

Gary K. Kai, the Roundtable’s executive director, said the group’s initial June 4 letter to the governor was only to express the administrative challenges of implementing civil unions. He said the group opposes any form of discrimination.

“Unfortunately, the use of the word veto has become equivalent to some, as a position against civil unions,” Kai wrote.

Several members of the Roundtable publicly sought to distance themselves from the initial letter, which was sent by the group’s executive committee. Gay rights activists also urged several members to speak out.

Lingle has put the bill on her potential veto list. She has until July 6 to veto, sign or allow the bill to become law without her signature.

The bill would give same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law. 

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