February 14, 2009

Civil Unions = veto bait?

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 11:50 am

Maybe it’s out there somewhere, but I have not seen any news reports with Governor Lingle’s reaction to the Civil Unions bill that recently passed the House 33-17. The Advertiser and Star-Bulletin stories after the House vote both mentioned the uncertain fate of the bill in the Senate, but then stop there. A Google search found a quote from Governor Lingle’s senior policy adviser, Linda Smith, saying that Lingle takes no position.

According to the committee report, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor testified in opposition to the bill. I have requested copies of all the testimony, but I don’t see any government agencies (other than the LG) on the list of testifiers. Their absence is odd, as it is clear that CUs would have effects on a wide range of state functions. Of course, the Governor’s Office policy is to require prior approval of all “official” testimony from the executive branch, and if the Governor is unwilling to take a position on CUs, then this probably explains their collective silence.

33 House votes are not enough to override a veto. The Advertiser mentions that Representative Takai (who is on military leave) did not vote but supports the bill. I’m not sure why they mention that, since Takai would need to be present to participate in any (potential) veto override vote. Maybe Takai has a brief period of liberty scheduled this summer when he could attend? I dunno.

The Senate, if the speculation in the media is true, probably does not have a 2/3 majority in favor of the bill, even though Democrats comprise 92% of the chamber. The lack of a Senate supermajority is not that surprising, given that 13 House Democrats have already voted no.

If Governor Lingle signals her intentions regarding Civil Unions (in either direction), it would provide cynical uncertain legislators an opportunity to chose a more politically advantageous position. Which is likely to be the main reason why the Governor remains silent.


  1. you should note that Vice-Speaker Mike Magoaoy and Majority Floor Leader Cindy Evans voted “no” on the bill — if it came to an override, it would seem that they should vote with the rest of “leadership” on a bill that Speaker Calvin Say, Majority Leader Blake Oshiro and Judiciary Chair Jon Riki Karamatsu pushed (and Judiciary usually is made up of chairs or vice chairs — of the sixteen members, only dissident leader Sylvia Luke, lone wolf Della Au Bellati, and Glenn Wakai — and the two GOP members — but Luke, Au Bellati, Wakai and the two Republicans all voted for Civil Unions — are not part of “leadership). McKelvey and Mizuno were the Jud members/ leadership team players who voted against Civil Unions on the floor. If the Speaker’s leadership team all voted for the bill, it would have veto-proof majority.

    Comment by SamGamgee — February 14, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

  2. Methinks the Gov’s silence is akin to the cynical approach she has taken on the State budget. Why take a public position before you have to, before the political risks and benefits are clear? Well, I suppose people who act according to their principles wouldn’t hold back but in an administration whose public positions appear to be dictated by Lenny “let-me-stick-my-finger-into-the-wind-and-see-which-way-it’s-blowing” Klompus, Lingle’s “lead from the rear” approach is not very surprising.

    Similarly not surprising — but very disappointing nonetheless — are the actions of several House members taken in connection with votes on the civil union bill. One legislator disappeared from the Judiciary Committee hearing just before the vote and likewise absented himself from the floor vote on Second Reading just before it was taken. Previopusly undiagnosed bladder problem? At least he ultimately took a position — voting “no”. More bizarre were those who voted “yes” on Second Reading and then switched on Third Reading two days later. What’s up with that? You had a position on an issue that’s been percolating for 10+ and then you cave and change it within 48 hours? Was the “yes” vote just some sort of test or purported parliamentary push so the “real” vote could be taken on Third Reading? And you fold like a bad poker hand in between? Wow, that shows a lot of conviction. If you have a position, you have a position. Others may not like it but don’t give false hope to one side — whichever it is — and then pull the rug out from under them two days later. Spare us the head fakes, take a position and stick with it. Weak, very, very weak.

    As for the numbers, there are a few — some of the same House flip-floppers mentioned above — who might be bribed, er, persuaded to vote in favor on a veto ovwerride if someone made it worth their while to do so. Trading pork on social issues? WOW. And they already flip-flopped once so it will come as no surprise if they do it again. In the Senate, well, getting it out of JGO which has an even six members (whose bright idea was that?), will be a challenge. Gabbard, obviously, and Slom are guaranteed “noes” and the socially conservative Bunda would surprise if he didn’t go the same way, altho’ he has been described as the “swing vote.” The Senate as a whole? Anybody’s guess at this point.

    Comment by Ted — February 14, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  3. It will likely pass the Senate if Taniguchi can maneuver it out of his committee. But does either chamber have the votes to override?

    The House does. The Senate? Doubtful.

    DOUG: How do you figure the House has two-thrids (i.e. 34 votes) if it only got 33 votes at Third Reading?

    Comment by charles — February 14, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

  4. the democrats in conservative districts drew lots to see who would be voting yes in caucus. those that voted no pulled the longest. i’m sure if it comes up for veto override, say will adjust the assignment of lots.

    also, in the senate, this big brouhaha about the JGO committee — big eye roll. the house sent it over so early to give 5 senators the opportunity to hank it out of JGO if there are to make “stop homosexuality international” viewers.

    of course, the house is throwing this over to the senate as aggressive defense to some things the democratic caucus is fearing team fukunaga is about to chuck their way.

    gov and ltgov are playing classic lingle. see what the neocons do before issuing a press release.

    Comment by line of flight — February 14, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

  5. This particular issue must be a personal tough-ie for this Governor, given what Team she plays on. To me, besides my own support of civil unions (and more!), making the Gov squirm in her pants to veto or not to veto is reason enough for me to hope the Legislature passes it out.

    Beyond that, why would the Departments weigh in at this point? To do so would be stupid, on all kinds of levels.

    They watch, they wait — because they can.

    DOUG: Yawn. I don’t suppose you have any actual evidence to support your veiled allegations of her homosexuality, though, right? Just some catty homophobic whispering campaign, isn’t it?

    Comment by hipoli — February 14, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

  6. I am curious to see what the HMOs have to say since it was them that ended reciprocal beneficiaries for all practical purposes by removing family coverage in health insurance from the list of benefits. Lingle is a very successful politician so I doubt her lesbianism has played any role in her silence, it’s more like, business and the neocons haven’t decided where they stand on the issue.

    Comment by line of flight — February 15, 2009 @ 8:45 am

  7. Doug, when it comes to veto overrides, there is no hard and fast rule. When Lingle first came into office, it went without saying that even though all the Repubs voted yes on final reading, they could be counted on to support the governor and vote no on an override. That is no longer the case. The latest example of this was when the governor vetoed the early education bill last session and none of the Repubs supported her.

    On the other hand, if the bill is a controversial one and I suppose the civil union bill qualifies as such, then I can see some legislators getting a bit squeamish about voting to override.

    However, the leadership votes to override so that would mean people like Evans would be caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Of course, all of this depends on whether or not the Senate has the votes. If not, all bets are off.

    Just my hunch, of course. :)

    Comment by charles — February 15, 2009 @ 9:14 am

  8. Oh, please, Doug. We all know the saying by now: ‘ONLY in Hawaii could we elect a Gay, Jewish Female Governor who’s a REPUBLICAN’. Our evidence? Our collective Gay-dars. I really dont give a crap if she comes out or not – the ‘whispered’ Girls Club (sorry if youre too out of the loop to know whos in and whos not) coupled with one more of her really bad pant suits and Lenny as the flamboyant cherry on top is enough for my gay-dar to go skyrocketing. Im not whispering or alleging like its something so awful or condemning — Im saying it — I believe my Governor is Gay. The people that think that is a statement to vilify her, or even have that I have the audacity to draw my own conclusions towards this end- arent those the people that are STILL vilifying homosexuality in and of itself? How 1990s…

    So, yes, her position on civil unions will be interesting. And if she actually vetos it? That’ll be sad. I actually would feel sad for her, personally. That she would be so beholden to the republican party and so ‘in the closet’ for the sake of the next political seat that she couldnt stand up for her very own rights.

    DOUG: Actually, I agree. Heh.

    Comment by hipoli — February 15, 2009 @ 9:39 am

  9. I have no right to “sell out” the movement for gay civil rights, but let me walk up to the line. Hopefully, without crossing over. As I have mellowed (become ‘wiser”?, become “jaded”?), I have come to accept, even respect, the need for legislators to protect themselves, even on issues I deeply care about.

    There are legislators who are taking cover on this issue. I would have to know the political dynamics within their district, as well as their personal beliefs before condemning them. In some cases, asking them to support civil unions MIGHT mean asking them to risk their careers. So what, you may ask. Shouldn’t they muster the courage to put their careers on the line on a matter of basic civil rights?

    Let’s assume a legislator has a half dozen legislative priorities and gay rights is not one of them. Should they sacrifice their ability to advance the other issues by taking a risky stance on this issue? Each district has different dynamics and each elected official has a different degree of vulnerability. As a general statement, I am prepared to assert the risks of supporting this bill are pretty low. But in some districts, the Catholic Church or born-again Protestants can play a significant role in affecting the outcome. Especially for a legislator with a small margin of victory in recent elections.

    The way I resolve this, is to hope the leadership of the chamber is capable of lining up the votes to protect individual legislators to vote in ways that protect them, while still allowing a “virtuous” bill to pass.

    This bill may not be one the leadership is willing to work very hard to provide that cover. It sometimes aint easy to do.

    In any event, I think the bill is i trouble in the Senate. The apparent initial decision of the Senate leadership to support the bill may be weakening as the conservative churches continue their call-in and email barage. It is time for the pro-civil unions crowd to mobilize their supporters as a counter-balance to the display of the rightwing’s onslaught.

    I believe there is a FULL marriage equality bill in the Senate. There may be wisdom in holding a hearing on THAT bill at the same time as hearing the Civil Unions bill. There is a strong moral claim for supporting complete marriage rights for same sex couples. Let civil rights advocates speak out in favor of THAT bill and let THAT bill draw the most intense fire from the right. The civil unions bill would then appear as a compromise bill. Which, frankly, is what it truly is. Just make that evident to all sides and the general public.

    But what do I know?

    Comment by kolea — February 15, 2009 @ 10:35 am

  10. This Governor and all the Legislators absolutely should muster the courage!!

    So what – muster the ‘courage’ for kids, muster the ‘courage’ for women, muster the ‘courage’ for the aged, disabled, or the mentally ill? Hogwash – thats EASY!

    THIS is a test of true valor and courage. THIS is a line in the sand. THIS issue’s time has come.

    We as a collective society weren’t ready for it in the mid-90s.

    Are we ready now?

    Do our GAY and LESBIAN brothers and sisters DESERVE the courage of our collective State leaders?

    The damn straight answer is YES.

    Do the Right Thing.

    Comment by hipoli — February 15, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

  11. My tactical idea about holding a hearing on the full marriage equality bill is not practical, I have learned. The Senate decided they would not act on either of these bills until they pass out of the House. (In the past, the Senate would pass such bills, only to have them die in the House. If the House is willing to pass it out, only them will Senators be asked to publicly stake out a position on this controversial subject.

    So there will not be a viable full marriage bill to hear alongside the CU bill by the time it gets to the Senate. Which is understandable, but prevents the scenario I was envisioning which would clearly remind the media, the conservatives, the swing votes and the supporters that the CU bill is a COMPROMISE bill. Without full marriage being on the table, the CU bill is easily painted as a “radical” or “ultra-liberal” expansion of gay rights. Passing the CU bill while defeating full marriage would provide cover for timid legislators, as well ass allowing the conservatives a sense of partial victory because they would have stopped Full Marriage.

    Comment by Kolea — February 15, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  12. hipoli, you may want to send your thoughts to the legislators. And I would start with those that supported the issue ever since it surfaced back in 1993.

    kolea, my hunch is that you are right. This strategy of going for the lesser-of-two-evils only goes so far. I would think that once the same-gender marriage bill fails, the opponents will focus on the civil unions bill anyway.

    You would think on issues like this, there would be an implied agreement between both chambers to pass it; otherwise, what is the point?

    From what I’m reading, there is no such agreement.

    DOUG: I echo Charles’ sentiments, but Hipoli would have to proceed without the pseudonymity allowed here. Maybe no can.

    I contacted my legislator (Aquino) about his no vote, and the response was … weak. I eagerly await the Journal for the second and third reading days to be published, where I will learn exactly who said what.

    Comment by charles — February 15, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

  13. Why submit testimony when all our Legislators read Doug’s blog anyways? Its BETTER than testifying because they actually READ this! Proof? Look at the ruckus Doug’s post on that little JRK blog caused.

    So, dear Legislators (yeah, you, the ones I always see reading this and Ian’s pages when you should be listening to floor speeches or people testifying in front of you) and YOU, dear closeted Governor:

    BE LEADERS that are representative of the social leaders Hawaii has historically always been in this nation.

    Be Brave. Dont stop for a second to fear. You cant. And dare not be selfish. Not on this.

    Just Do The Right Thing.

    Comment by hipoli — February 15, 2009 @ 8:28 pm

  14. hipoli, if you think all legislators read this blog, you’re entitled to that opinion. I have no way of knowing, of course, but count me among the doubters.

    DOUG: If only that were true… Count me, too.

    Comment by charles — February 16, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

  15. Youre both kidding, right? I get the biggest giggle when I hear legislators and staffers talking about my own comments that Ive posted here. On top of that, Ive seen this page up on their laptops, during conference no less. Enough legislators and staff read this blog for the message to take hold and resonate. So you can doubt – but I dont.

    Again — because I hope it becomes the mantra of this issue until its passed. I hope its used, over and over and over – let it be on all your lips. I’ll never take claim — but if I see it and hear it — and if it helps inspire this issue — then even more — I’ll smile.


    Just Do the Right Thing.

    Just Do the Right Thing.

    Just Do the Right Thing.

    Comment by hipoli — February 16, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

  16. The Miami Gay Guide really is counting on Taniguchi, Takamine and Nishihara… yummmmy!

    Way to go, out-of-state Homosexual Agenda!

    We’ll take all the back-up we can get… hehe!

    Today the Hawaii lawmakers are recruited to our team, tomorrow all NA KEIKI!

    We the enlightened all know that gay weddings must be taught to all publicly educated Hawaii Keiki as equal to marriage between a man and a woman.

    Screw tradition… just not traditionally!

    Who cares what the overwhelming majority of Hawaii parents believe.

    Since we can’t reproduce through natural means we need new laws that we can spread what we know is best into the minds of Hawaii’s youngest and most vulnerable.

    We’ll show those moral-bigots who only care about raising their children the way they see best that men solemnized to men and women solemnized to women are even better than equal… because Hawaii is pretty dumb and easy legal pickings. (Hawaii’s slower than normal lawmakers bit hook, line and sinker all that equality PR bull, even though reciprocal benefits already grants inheritance rights, workers compensation, the right to sue for wrongful death, health insurance and pension benefits for state employees, hospital visitation, and health-care decision-making.)

    And thank YOU, Blake Oshiro for introducing HB444… May you have many offspring and may all your fabulous dreams come true!

    DOUG: If Reciprocal Beneficiary benefits were truly equal, Jeffrey, then you’d have an argument. They’re not. You don’t. In fact, if they were equal you would not have even left a comment, so you essentially concede the point. Thanks for playing.

    Comment by Jeffrey Knows Best — February 17, 2009 @ 8:30 am

  17. If there was ever a time to do the right thing on this issue, the time is now.

    Like everyone else, most conservatives are (rightly) paying more attention to the economy. The Legislature needs to step up and do what is right. My friends in the GLBT community are not going to get more chances in the foreseeable future for something that is a partial right.

    Comment by zatoichi — February 17, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  18. Legislators read this blog? To what is this world coming? Good thing I use a pseudonym, even ‘tho it doesn’t look like one. ;-)

    Comment by Ted — February 17, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

  19. Ok Doug, you picked up on a major part of the dilemma. I’m stepping out of flamboyant character.

    Please enlighten us on all the extra rights civil unions would entail over RBs. If it’s only in name there’s no difference aside from educational indocrination.

    You have to admit, RBs were a huge concession in ’98: inheritance rights, workers compensation, the right to sue for wrongful death, health insurance and pension benefits for state employees, hospital visitation, and health-care decision-making.

    And then please enlighten us on why the RB law should not simply be amended if the inequality of civil rights does exist.

    It all comes down to how this will be taught and to children and how they will be influenced by homosexual curriculum in public schools.

    There is a lot of backlash brewing from many faith communities who love their children and don’t want same-sex solemnization taught in public schools as an influence on their children.

    Blake’s testimony this morning on the house floor against abstinence education doesn’t help the same-sex cause either. It is becoming more and more abundantly clear to the general public what Blake is really pushing and that the mainland homosexual agenda is determined to indoctrinate and influence Hawaii’s Keiki.

    Both gay, straight and everything else imaginable await your response…

    DOUG: Sorry, but I refuse the task of suggesting amendments that would only (further) entrench the second-class status of RB law. Separate but equal, yadda yadda yadda.

    …and educational indoctrination? Whatever. You’re making the same arguments once used to prop up anti-miscegenation laws. I don’t have to debate morals with you, and I won’t.

    Comment by Jeffrey — February 17, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

  20. Ted – shall we call you Senator or Representative?

    Comment by hipoli — February 17, 2009 @ 9:58 pm

  21. Wow, check out all the posts. Civil unions is this year’s rail transit when it comes to attracting comments.

    Comment by Superfly — February 17, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

  22. Very nice spin-attempt. I’ll help you out. You’re hard-pressed to find any variance in civil rights.

    Maybe one day when the disconnected in the Capitol begin to consider the consequences of legislation in terms of child-rearing rather than personal justifications for their personal lifestyle, they’ll then be in tune more-so with what Hawaii has been, is and will be as state.

    Doug, I don’t want to debate morals with anyone either. I’m pointing out the practical consequences of this bills passage and huge concerns of much if not most of the voting public.

    To be quite frank, I personally could care less what any consenting adults do behind closed doors. And if a same-sex couple can find a minister willing to do a ceremony for them to exchange vows before whatever they believe, their family and friends- fine, whatever floats their boat and live and let live.

    Here’s the problem. Passage of a state statute solemnizing same-sex vows now creates the consequence (very possibly unintended by many in the Leg. who voted yes, but now looking more and more intentional by Blake) of the advocacy of same-sex solemnization in the public education system curriculum at the tax-paying expense of many citizens who do not want their children, grand-children, nieces and nephews taught such activity/identity as an equal option justifiable by state law.

    The economic impact of civil unions expanding the function of the Dept. of Health and how it would effect the prison system should also be heavy on the minds of our policy makers as well in this time where downsizing is a priority.

    The best solution, IMHO, is for the state to revoke it’s role in marriage as a whole. The state can keep it’s role for RBs. There’s your equal rights for all. The public schools can teach that the state recognizes RBs for any consenting parties, but marriage is subject to the jurisdiction of churches of any couple’s personal choice. There’s your liberty for all.

    Now let’s all say our pledge of allegiance together.

    DOUG: Spin? Nah, if you’re dead set on amending the RB law then you tell me which marriage rights should not be added to RB. Write your own laundry list if you like, but don’t cry foul to me simply because I won’t jump through your rhetorical hoop.

    I’m totally okay with the State getting out of the “marriage” issue (same- or opposite-sex) altogether, if it were not for the “portability” problems that would result if there were only CU or RB allowed.

    Comment by Jeffrey — February 17, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

  23. The other day, I was driving with one of my children, listening to KSSK. The news was talking about this bill – and the terms gay and lesbian naturally kept coming up in report. I finally asked my kid “do you know what Gay is?” The answer was No. I proceeded to lay the discussion out. I helped my child understand the difference between the model of love that exists in our family, and that which exists in others. Should I have said “Being Gay does not exist” or “being Gay is bad” when we have friends who we love and who love us who are gay and lesbian? I am very grateful that I, myself, can help my child understand this concept. But isnt that my job as mother? Next topic: Sex (but Im hoping I can wait a couple years for that!).

    To me, the civil union bill (whether it is or is not RB -extended) IS a step towards societal recognition that Gays and Lesbians DO exist, that they are not BAD, and that we CAN and SHOULD teach our children about what it all means.

    Just Do the Right Thing.

    Comment by hipoli — February 18, 2009 @ 5:31 am

  24. I’m not dead set on amending RBs.

    I’m looking for the best solution that is based upon liberty, equality and family that the main leaders of the party’s at odds can agree on.

    It is the pro-CU side’s push that has generated huge questioning from the pro-TM side of why such an aggression that impacts the public education of their children.

    The red flags are up all over the place that mainland groups are pressing their agenda on Hawaii’s family oriented culture and want Hawaii as a trophy after this cycle’s big loss in California.

    The pro-CU side needs to reconsider what is best for Hawaii based on a more thoughtful analysis of HB444′s practical consequences.

    I’m still standing on the state revocation of marriage licensing as the best solution.

    Some lawmaker better pick it up right away and sell it right to get the credit for being the peacemaker of this issue.

    “Portability” solution:

    Incoming marriage or CU licenses would only be recognized by the state as RBs. Incoming marriages or CUs would need to be recognized by transfer of license or renewal of vows at the couple’s church of choice.

    Outgoing RBs from our state would be subject to what the receiving jurisdiction would recognize Hawaii’s RBs as. The documentation of exchanged vows from the couple’s church serves as evidence of whatever they want to be recognized as.

    Comment by Jeffrey — February 18, 2009 @ 9:23 am

  25. “Ted – shall we call you Senator or Representative?”

    Hipoli, I don’t know whether to take that as an insult or a compliment but it gave me the best chuckle I’ve had in quite some time.

    I am neither, altho’ in earlier professional incarnations I was asked to dip my toe in the sometimes scummy pond that is elective politics. I declined, telling several legislators “Forgive me, but I just don’t want to be like you.” By that I meant not that I did not respect these people, ‘tho I did not always agree with them, but that I did not want to have to do the things necessary to get elected.

    First among these is sanitizing my firmly held beliefs (that, admittedly, may not always be right) to offend the least number of people. And that, it seems, is what getting elected and making Bud Light, the most popular — and blandest — beer in America, is all about: being the least offensive to the greatest number of people. I am a life long independent, never have been a member of a political party, and will always give my honest opinion, even when it is utterly contrary to my personal and professional best interests.

    On that latter note, I have to express that I am somewhat disappointed that fear-mongers like Jeffrey appears to be have made their way to this blog (or perhaps back to it, as I am not a longtime reader). It’s a free world so I guess I’ll have to put up with it but when I hear buzz words like “homosexual agenda” or curriculum or indoctrination, I wonder what world these people live in. Many years ago I found myself forced into the position of co-parenting a split/blended family with someone who suffers to this day from the prejudice born of this type of ignorance. Our children — incredibly well-adjusted children — grew into star students, athletes, and public citizens committed to social justice and positive change in the world.

    These kids had more people loving and supporting them over those years than ever could have been possible in the “traditional marriage” I thought I was living in and I am deeply grateful for it. I wish I’d known what was coming beforehand — because I could have avoided the personal heartache that attends the demise of a marriage — but then I would never have had these incredible kids, so I am only richer for the entire experience, good and bad, high and low.

    One of them recently said something that that puts it better than I ever could. This one was frustrated in efforts to make mainland people understand what is so special about growing up in Hawaii. Then something Barack Obama said about that same experience made it clear what needed to be said: “Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: ‘The opportunity that Hawaii offered — to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect — became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear.’”

    To paraphrase another president, there is nothing to fear but the fear that is born of the ignorance of people who would judge others based not on the “content of their character,” as MLK would say, but on the color of their skin or their sexual orientation or whatever. I was fotunate to be raised by people who carried none of that baggage and didn’t lay it on me. What I later had to deal with it in a very personal way only reinforced that there was nothing to fear; there was no agenda, no indoctrination. There were only people being people, hoping, trying, failing, trying again, loving, living.

    We gave into our fears 10 years ago out of ignorance. Let’s hope that, in the meantime, we have learned the mutual respect of which Barack spoke. I have no doubt that we can do it, that we will do it. The question is only when we will do it. I hope it is in my lifetime so that I can tell my children we made the the world a better place for them. If not, I hope my children will finish the job that we were unable, or unwilling, or too afraid to do ourselves.

    Comment by Ted — February 18, 2009 @ 11:24 am

  26. With speeches like that, Ted, you would fit right in with the House of Representatives.

    With Hanabusa? Not so much. She tends to be a woman who appreciates the less-is-more approach.

    Joking aside, your point on Obama is solid. I do hope we, as a State, remember who we are.

    Just Do the Right Thing.

    Comment by hipoli — February 19, 2009 @ 6:58 am

  27. I was on a construction job site about six weeks ago. One of the tradesman listens to Rush Limbaugh and that sort of crap all day long. Sometimes, as a favor to me, he will turn it to Classic Rock.

    We were talking about Gay rights and he volunteered that he had no objection to gay people having equal rights for their longterm relationships, so long as they didn’t insist on calling it “marriage.” To him, “marriage” meant “a man and a woman” and gays were being unreasonable in forcing “the rest of us” to accept their definition of a “perfectly good word.”

    When I explained gay and lesbain activists were recognizing his objection and were now lobbying for “Civil Unions,” he was surprised. I told him of the hearing date and offered to help him write up his testimony so the legislators would pass a law along the lines he wanted. Well, he never showed up.

    My hunch is that “Jeffrey” would have been willing to accept “civil unions” if he thought gay couples were on the verge of winning full marriage equality. In such a context, “civil unions” would be a partial victory for his side. Instead, in the face of a possible victory for civil unions, he digs in and wants “RBs” as a lesser alternative.

    I agree with Doug. We COULD spend hours and hours arguing over which of the 1200(?), 1800(?), places in the law where “marriage” or “spouse” or “family” is mentioned, debating which should also apply to same sex couples. Or we could recognize that the legal system has already decided the proper rights and obligations appropriate for civil recognition of committed couples. We call that bundle “marriage.” Some of us are not freaked out at applying those same laws to same sex couples. Those who DO freak out are totally clueless (or deep denial) as to why they care so much about other people’s sex lives.

    Jeffrey wants to avoid responsibility for his own visceral objection. Instead, he asks us to imagine the effect such legislation will have on our “innocent children.” Well, Jeff, some of those kids are gay. A lot of them have family members, brothers sisters, cousins, aunties and uncles who are gay. SOme of those kids have parents who are gay. Why do you want to confuse the kids and make them ashamed, or terrified, about their gay family members? Why to you want to reinforce the pain and loneliness these kids feel?

    The answer most apparent to me, is you think persecution and repression of gays is the best way of keeping kids from experimenting with gay sex. You want persecution and loneliness to be the disincentive for kids to “become” gay.

    30 years ago, Harvey Milk helped fight against the “Briggs Initiative,” which would have banned homosexuals from teaching “our kids.” The initiative barely lost. Thirty years later, California voted on full equal marriage rights with Prop 8. It barely won. In those three decades, people’s attitudes evolved so dramatically as to shift the debate that far. And the polling data shows it is the older folks who have not (yet) learned to accept homosexuals as fully equal human beings. The younger voters were overwhelmingly in favor of equal gay marriage rights.

    In many ways, todays “conservatives” are accepting of minority rights in a way their predecessors could not. Few conservatives are now openly racist, though 40 years ago their forebears were supporting miscegenation laws and opposing civil rights for blacks. Fewer of them are openly sexist–look at how many were passionate about Sarah Palin’s bid for VP. Because conservatives have become cheerleaders for Israel, their leaders have suppressed open anti-semitism in their ranks.

    The “Jeffries” of the world are being dragged along as American society becomes more tolerant of diversity. People of his ilk will always find some minority to denigrate, some prejudice to cling to.

    The United States is evolving into an authentically multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. White, heterosexual males are losing SOME of their privilege, with the middle and lower income white males feeling the loss of their social standing the most painfully.

    If only we can make our economy a bit more democratic as well….

    Comment by kolea — February 19, 2009 @ 4:05 pm

  28. Youre my new hero, Kolea.


    Comment by hipoli — February 19, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

  29. Ted, kolea and hipoli,

    Like I told Doug, I don’t want to debate morals but rather address the practical political and educational consequences of HB 444.

    Your subjective meanderings may entertain and encourage others with your similar presuppositions, but they’re meaningless to the nuts and bolts of the matter.

    At least you concede that this is about how Hawaii’s children will be educated. Now what’s best to promote to our children through tax-payer funded public schools we differ on. I side with our laws expressing the ideal structure for the upbringing of children as a default to the revocation of any involvement in marriage or CU by the state. And dare I say you are on the side of the state-wide legally aggressive super-minority in what is consequential to public education.

    I don’t believe it, but your goals are now perceived by a growing amount of the Hawaii public as politically villainous offensively in pursuit of immoral goals with our children. Notice the radio, print advertisements and “protectourkeiki” website coordinated within a few days through bi and non-partisan efforts.

    Party elders who saw this coming when the bill was introduced were saying “What the hell are they doing?”

    Your cloth in the party have a huge political dilemma. Your opponents will put a lot more than their money where their mouths are. And many of your colleagues who care about their careers will change their tune.

    Comment by Jeffrey — February 20, 2009 @ 8:30 am

  30. “Jeffrey” obviously has some kind of fixation on this issue projecting some kind of internal complex onto civil union and homosexuality. My guess is that he’s either repressing the fact that he’s gay or unconsciously suffering a terrible negative mother complex. Referring to this issue as a “huge political dilemma” is a bit of an exaggeration (inflation?) and I think lends support to a criticism that “Jeffrey” is clearly possessed by a negative mother complex or repressed homosexual tendencies.

    From a textual point of view, “Jeffrey” seems to be haunted by the ghost of an ex-communicated hare krishna follower’s past. The keiki, the huge political dilemma, immoral goals, etc., all the trappings of “stop homosexuality international” without the heavy peppering of christianity.

    Comment by line of flight — February 22, 2009 @ 10:53 am

  31. As a person of faith, I am deeply disturbed by the use of religion as a weapon to discriminate against members of our own community. This issue is not about sexuality but rather about people taking care of each other. The real family values that all religions teach is that we should take care of one another. Passing the Civil Unions bill recognizes that basic human need for love and support through the good times and the bad. As a Buddhist, I believe in equality, that all beings deserve respect and love and affirm that we are all embraced by unlimited compassion. I do not live my life in fear of difference or of change but embrace it. However, what I do fear as an American is the dangerous influence of particular persons of faith and their dogma on making sound public policy for all of us.

    Comment by Jason — February 22, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

  32. Don’t try to change the subject, Jeffrey. YOU are the one with meandering, subjective presuppositions — paranoia I dare say — with your comments about the supposed “homosexual agenda” and indoctrination. My views are based on empirical evidence gathered in 20 years of personal experience dealing with the issue, not slogans reflexively regurgitated like a Pavlovian dog. And please do not put words in my mouth; I do not concede that “this is about how Hawaii’s children will be educated.” I take responsibility for the education of my children; their values derive from what I have taught them, not what they learn in school. Indeed, I had to spend considerable time undoing the prejudice to which they were exposed there, altho’ most of it came out of the mouths of classmates blindly mirroring — as do you — the ignorance of those closest to them.

    We do agree on one thing; the State should get out of the business of solemnizing personal relationships in the form of “marriage.” Civil unions between consenting adults of whatever gender should be treated as a contract with all the rights and obligations attendant thereto. The parties can then choose to solemnize that relationship — or not — in whatever spiritual, religious, pagan, etc. fashion they choose. In the eyes of the law, the obligations would be the same and the baggage attached would be of the couples’ own choosing — not prescribed by the State.

    Comment by Ted — February 23, 2009 @ 10:39 am

  33. In a poll I’ve been running on my blog, so far, 24 people are in favor of supporting Civil Unions and only 6 are against it.

    This is a non-scientific poll mind you, but I do think that had I taken this poll 20 years ago, the numbers would have been flipped.

    If anyone else would like to participate in the poll you can do so here:


    Comment by damon — February 23, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  34. We will certainly have full gay marriage eventually.

    Comment by Heathen07 — April 2, 2009 @ 9:38 pm

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