Keep the debate civil

The only reservations we have about next month’s special session of the state Legislature to deal with same-sex marriage is the possibility exists for it to turn into a political circus.

Both sides have already begun lobbying efforts to recruit legislators to their side of the question. By most accounts, the vote in the House will be quite close (within three or four votes, favoring passage of the legislation). The margin in the Senate favoring passage is much larger.

We support the governor’s decision to call the special session. As we wrote Wednesday, same-sex couples should not be denied the legal benefits granted to married couples for even one more year.

But what we want to see is a sober discussion of the issue in the special session where fears are allayed and potential problems are resolved. What we don’t want to see are efforts – especially by outside interests – to pressure legislators. In particular, attack ads from PACs would be an especially unwelcome addition to the session.

By calling a special session to address this issue and this alone, the governor has assured that all sides will be heard. If the governor had waited for the regular session of the Legislature, same-sex marriage would have been one of dozens of issues to be addressed and may well have gotten lost – as it did in the last regular session.

That, of course, is in addition to yet one more year of delay for marriage benefits to same-sex couples.

The stage is set for a reasoned resolution of same-sex marriage in Hawaii. All that remains is for all sides to keep the debate civil – and keep outside interests out of the discussion.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.