Why the Roundtable Quieted Its Civil Unions Storm

Hawaii Business Roundtable

Imagine you are the CEO of a supermarket and a longtime customer sends you an e-mail to tell you she is "depressed."

It's not because of the cost of milk and beer or because the checkout lines lines are too long. Rather, it's because your company wants the governor to veto legislation important to her.

In the case of Foodland Super Market, such an e-mail came in mid-June from loyal customer Eileen McKee of Kihei, Maui.

"I am depressed to read that Foodland is one of the companies listed as part of the Hawaii Business Roundtable, who recently sent a letter to the governor, requesting that she veto the civil unions bill. I feel so sad about not being able to shop at your store anymore. I love the people, and always sensed that your company was open to diversity."

McKee wanted to know if Foodland stood behind the roundtable's action, a letter from its executive committee to the governor urging her to veto House Bill 444.

"Please advise, so I can still enter your store with my head held high," she concluded

Juliet Garcia, Foodland's community relations coordinator, promptly responded to McKee: "While Foodland is a member of the Hawaii Roundtable, we had no part in asking for a veto of this bill. We were not consulted regarding the letter sent to Governor Lingle."

It's not clear exactly how many similar e-mails, letters and phone calls were directed at other roundtable members. But it is clear that the backlash against the roundtable's June 4 letter to Lingle was considerable.

In the end, the 46 members of the elite roundtable — presidents and CEOs of local companies as familiar to Hawaii residents as malasadas and loco moco — couldn't abide being perceived as discriminatory. And on Wednesday, the group sent Lingle another letter, this time backing away from any appearance of opposition to civil unions.

Loading
Discussion
Have feedback? Suggestions?