Civil Unions Go Live in Hawaii – Any Takers?
As Lady Gaga dropped the ball over Times Square standing next to Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, many gays were reminded of the great progress made in 2011 for marriage equality.
Thankfully, 2012 already bodes well for those looking to tie the knot – or simply to know that they can one day. Delaware and Hawaii both passed civil unions laws, which went into effect as the Gagalender turned to 2012.
While Delaware is a great state, let’s be honest: we’re all dreaming of Hawaii!
The civil unions law there is sure to bring all kinds of LGBTs over the Pacific. At the very least, the law is doing a fantastic job at promoting the state’s always-accepting vibe.
In fact, Kevin and I had the good fortune to be invited on a press trip this past November as part of the state’s outreach to the LGBT community.
Maui was our host, which makes sense because this is really the only island that I would ever want to get married on.
The romance practically slaps you in the face as you step off the plane; this island is made for couples, groups and families. Maui doesn’t have the cosmo-in-paradise vibe of Oahu, and it lacks the complete isolation of smaller islands like Kauai.
Maui is an island of balance, one of harmony. Maui delivers the best of all worlds.
On one side, you have Kihei, home to the majority of the sun-soaked resorts (such as the Maui Sunseeker LGBT resort). On the other, you have the rain-soaked lushness of Hana. And in between you have the 600+ twists and turns of the epic Road to Hana – one of the most gorgeous and hair-raising roads in the world.
Spend some time lounging on the sunny beaches of Kihei, and then take a few days to escape all semblance of the outside world over in Hana. Get married on the stunning cliffs of the Travaasa Hana, and then spend some time relaxing in the spa, fishing or riding horses on the beach.
Maui is truly a dream destination as far as weddings are concerned, and they are prepared for the inevitable boom of eloping gay couples. “About 40% of weddings in Hawaii take place on Maui, and Hawaii is the number one destination for straight weddings worldwide,”says Frank Miholer from GayHawaiiWedding.com.
The majority of the other destination weddings are taking place on Caribbean islands, and in places like Las Vegas. But the truth of the matter is that Hawaii is one of the most diverse island ecosystems on the planet; you can get a little taste of everything in the dozen microclimates that populate these islands.
“People just think of Hawaii as beaches, but people don’t really know what we really are,” Frank explains. “Everywhere you go is different. We have our 10,000 foot volcano that looks like Mars; we have lush forests that look like Africa; we have things that you can’t do anywhere else. You can get married anytime, because the south side of the island only averages 9 inches of rain a year.”
“It’s important for every gay traveler to know is that it is a gay-friendly island, even though we don’t have a multitude of bars,” adds photographer and business partner Kevin Rebelo.
“It’s still a place that people can come and feel extremely comfortable. It’s everyone’ dream, straight or gay, to have their ceremony in a beautiful, tropical setting. This is what people want to do.”
Maui is indeed a wonderfully warm and inviting place to be a couple. The island is regularly voted one of the best islands in the world. Conde Nast Traveler readers have voted Maui as their favorite island worldwide for seventeen of the past twenty three years. This attitude extends to gay couples, and during our visit we saw several other gay and lesbian couples enjoying their vacation on Maui.
But what about getting full marriage equality?
“One of the biggest reasons that we are doing civil unions is not financial. Our struggle for equal rights over the last 17 years is so that people can see us as equals, and see us in a different light. The more that the civil unions are out, the more that it spreads to all the states, the more that we’re going to be seen as equals. … Our next step in the next year is to get gay marriage statewide.”
Regardless of your personal beliefs regarding civil unions versus full marriage equality, the steady march forward inspires much confidence in the recognition of civil unions and marriages nationwide.
“What we’re offering is that your union will be recognized here. When your state recongizes civil unions, we’re offering people to come back and we will do the paperwork for free. They can come back for another honeymoon and get it done for free.” So if you’re looking to step up your commitment to your partner, consider Maui for a destination wedding – romantic, rugged and relaxing, this is the spot to get closer to the people that matter most to you!
For a taste of traditional Hawaii in the quant Wailuku, stay at The Old Wailuku Inn.
Enjoy the clothing optional pool at the only gay resort on Maui: LGBT Sunseeker Resort.
Escape to the end of the earth at the deeply luxurious all-inclusive Travaasa Hana.
Get hitched with the experienced and inexpensive Gay Hawaii Weddings.
For more pictures of our trip to Maui: