Last edited: January 01, 2005

Hawaii Lawmakers Override Veto

Associated Press, July 12, 2001

HONOLULU—The Legislature raised Hawaii’s age of sexual consent from 14 to 16, overriding a governor’s veto for the first time since Hawaii became a state.

The nearly unanimous vote Tuesday ended Hawaii’s distinction of having the nation’s lowest age of consent.

Democratic Gov. Ben Cayetano accused lawmakers of being "politically correct" to protect their re-election bids. He said the bill was poorly written and would allow some of the toughest penalties in the nation on consensual sex acts involving young people—up to 20 years in prison.

Sen. Les Ihara, who cast the only vote against overriding the governor’s veto, said the punishment was the same as for rape. "I believe the punishment does not fit the crime," he said.

The bill exempts married couples and sexual encounters involving a minor between 14 and 16 and a person less than five years older.

The law expires in 2003, with a provision for a task force to study the issue of sexual consent and report to lawmakers in 2003.

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