Our second issue of the new year provides reasons to celebrate, although we wouldn’t be the Weekly without a reality check. Civil unions are now available in Hawaii to same sex couples, yes, but Shantel Grace’s cover story explains the painful ways in which this status falls short of equal protection under law. A new EPA report shows Hawaii has seen a 15 percent overall reduction in toxic releases, but Matt Kain’s Diary entry digs deeper than has the mainstream press, revealing the identity of these chemicals and their potential health effects, as well as the fact that water pollution has nearly doubled.

It is with unqualified pride and joy, however, that we feature the fiction and poetry that won first place in the Weekly’s first literary contest. Please join us for a reading and celebration Mon., Jan. 16 (see “Hot Picks,” p. 8). Happy Year of the Dragon!

–Mindy Pennybacker