The Family Equality Coalition of Hawaii, one of the largest supporters of equal rights as it pertains to same-sex couples sent out a letter to supporters after yesterday’s senate session.  

Here is what they had to say:

By now most of you know that yesterday’s vote in the Hawaii Senate to pull our civil unions bill (HB444 HD1) to the floor for a full vote was not successful. This was a great disappointment for Hawaii’s LGBT community and our allies.  While 18 of the 25 members of the Hawaii Senate pledged to support this bill, only six stood firm on their commitment and voted to pull the bill from the deadlocked Senate JGO Committee.  We are so grateful for the courage of these six senators.  Our deepest appreciation and thanks to you!

We must not lose sight of our goal of equality and I want to stress to all of you that we have not lost.  We have moved so far in 2009 on our path towards equality.  This legislative session proved to be an opportunity to educate the public, educate the legislators, dramatically expand our membership base, and most importantly actually pass a civil unions bill out of the Hawaii House of Representatives by a vote of 33-17.  This is the not the end but just the beginning of a newly energized movement for LGBT equality in the State of Hawaii.  We will continue to get stronger and increase our already emerging political power.  Look how things have changed since 2007 when we couldn’t even get the House Judiciary Committee to even vote on our bill!  Family Equality Coalition will continue to pursue all available avenues to obtain the legal rights and protections that our families deserve. 

Immediate Next Steps….

Friday, March 27, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – MAHALO AND LEI GIVING to the 6 brave senators who voted to recall HB444 from committee.  Please join us.  We will meet at the State Capitol by the Queen Liliuokalani statue.  FEC will donate leis, but feel free to bring your own as well.  The more the better.  For further information please call Jesse at 954-1685. 

Friday, March 27, 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. – SIGN WAVING AT THE CAPITOL CONTINUES.  We must show the Senate that our community will continue to fight for our equal rights and that we cannot be silenced.  We all know what a great strategy sign waving is here in Hawaii, and it’s fun too!  Please join us for whatever time you can spare.  We have plenty of extra signs if you don’t have your own. 

THANK YOU CARDS:  Please take the time in the next few days to mail personal thank you cards to our six brave senators.  Please mail to the following address and add the Senator’s room number: 415 South Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI  96813. 

  • Sen. Gary Hooser, Room 214
  • Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Room 231
  • Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Room 226
  • Sen. Carol Fukunaga, Room 216
  • Sen. Les Ihara, Room 220
  • Sen. Michelle Kidani, Room 203

LAST BUT NOT LEAST….

Thanks to our dedicated FEC members and coalition partners for helping us to achieve our amazing progress thus far.  I am honored to be working with you and am excited about our continued work together as we move forward to achieving equality for all couples and families. 

Sincerely,

 

Alan R. Spector, LCSW

Co-Chair

 


I just would like to say thank you to the Family Equality Coalition for all the great work they do here in Hawaii!

If you haven’t heard already, the motion to recall House Bill 444 (the civil unions bill) failed today.  Although, it is hard to heart, there is still hope.  Senators, Jill Tokuda in particular, voiced heartfelt support for the bill while at the same time voted against recalling the bill from committee.  Sen. Tokuda argued that the process is important, and I do agree with her on that issue.  Thank you Sen. Tokuda.

What I found most hurtful was the people in the gallery who erupted into uncontrollable cheering and applause everytime a senator spoke in opposition to the bill.  It was clear that Senate President Colleen Hanabusa was not happy with the uproars as she tried her best the quell the mob-like crowd, dressed in red, that took over the gallery.  You would think a bunch of church-going, bible-toting, religious zealots would be more respectful.  Shame on them!

It’s hard to try to go on when you feel so defeated.  Hawaii is better than this though.  We will get through this tough time.  We need to respectfully voice our support of equal rights for all.  I think supporters of HB444 can safely say that we have been respectful of the process and everyone involved.  Lets not stoop to the level of the mob in red and get vicious.  We need to unite in peaceful solidarity and let our representatives know where we stand on the important issue of equal rights.

Get involved.  Write your representatives.  Keep up with the issues.  Be active in our political process.

Stay strong!  

Mahalo.

The Honolulu Advertiser recently ran a story entitled “Members of clergy voice support for civil unions bill” it can be found online here: http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090323/BREAKING01/90323056

Although the Advertiser’s coverage of House Bill 444 and civil unions has been really biased (in favor of those opposing civil unions), it was nice to see the article receive some much needed attention.  I just wanted to share two comments that were left in the comments section of this story and really hit the point home.

ludge wrote:
Speaking as a minister, I offer this: Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion. Trying to impose “God’s will” on what is a civil matter violates that simple principle and constitutional right. As to the imposition of what some will have as being “God’s will”, do the ones who claim this have some inside track as to what is in His plan? He bestowed on us free will and it is up to us as individuals to make the decisions we do. Of course, if you believe in pre-destination then you’re basically screwed because the unions you so fervently would deny are in His plan and there’s nothing you can do about it. In either case, accept that your will is not God’s will and He can do whatever He pleases.
hilohaole wrote:
If you are forbidding me from marrying the person I love (unless of course the State has a compelling interest in doing so), you are denying me the right to pursue of happyness, as recognized by the US Supreme Court and guaranteed by US Declaration of Independence.And no, I am not suggesting a revolution. That is your rethoric answer, that does not bring any contribution to the discussion. I quoted Lincoln literally, hoping you would understand the spirit of his words, not the literal meaning.Finally, and I say this from my own personal experience, sexual orientation, in the vast majority of cases, cannot be changed. If you saying I am a liar, well.. thanks. In that case I am asking you: do you think you could change your heterosexuality and live a fullfilling sexual and marital relation with a person of your same sex?
03/24/2009 10:58:44 a.m.
Thank you both!

There has been a lot of attention on Hawaii leaders who have spoken out against House Bill 444 and civil unions.  I’d like to draw attention to a great proponent of gay rights, Congressman Neil Abercrombie. Although he was in Washington D.C. at the time of the hearing, Congressman Abercrombie submitted testimony in support of HB444.

In his testimony Representative Abercrombie writes, “This bill offers homosexuals equality under the law and ensures basic human rights.”

“The gay and lesbian citizens of Hawaii are good citizens; they pay taxes and follow laws.  It is shameful that while they must give their equal share to the government, the government will not give them equal protection.”

Mr. Abercrombie’s statements highlight one of the strongest arguments for the passage of House Bill 444, we are all citizens of this great country and we all deserve equal protection under the law.

Suze Orman made a great point about the protection marriage affords couples financially.  That protection should not be an exclusive right of heterosexual couples.  Watch Suze Orman’s Valentine’s Day Wish on YouTube.

Thank you, Congressman Neil Abercrombie.

Thank you, Suze Orman.

Wayne Cordeiro of New Hope Christian Fellowship misleads his congregation.  In an address to his follower, Cordeiro makes statements of far reaching, damaging consequences.  All in one speech he accuses a Rabbi of not knowing his scriptures, supports discrimination, and suggests that we register gay people so they don’t teach his kids P.E.  This is one of the most insulting, degrading, and anti-American speeches I have ever heard.   Speaking about House Bill 444 and civil unions, this is some of what Mr. Cordeiro had to say:

One of the things that is really tough on this is when we as Christian, or believers in God, concede to this stuff. It was at the testimony that several Christians got up and said, “What’s wrong with that, that’s cool.” If you’re too cool for God, you’re too cool.

“And a Rabbi of a local synagogue stood up, a Rabbi, now, Old Testament old school scholars. Here, and I quote, “I believe family life is strengthened when publically validated commitments, such as civil unions, exist between partners.” He continued, “Sacred covenants in churches and synagogues should not be limited only to heterosexual couples.” This is a Rabbi. Then he said, and this is all verbatim, “The state of Hawaii must not sacrifice our families and our children on the alter of ideologies that disguise themselves as religious faith.” He must not have read his own scriptures, Leviticus 18:22 that says Do not lie with another man as a man lies with another woman for it will be an abomination to the Lord and it will defile your land.” I know his scriptures better than he does. But he stood up and gave testimony. So what happens when we as Christians or believing people concede to these things it messes everybody else. Because they think, well if the leaders don’t know then [it] must be okay. We can’t do that.

“Let me tell you one thing. This is just one of the many things that will happen. Because you have to think, if this thing goes through what will happen. There will be protection for same-sex couple. They say, “What’s wrong with that.” They say, “God made us this way.” Right? That’s what they say, “God made us this way. We can’t help it.” Okay, so if it’s a homosexual couple, two men, this man has the same feelings that a heterosexual guy has for a woman, the hormones start going or whatever, this guy has for a man. Understand? If that’s the way God made him, then I’m just saying, theoretically, he will have the same hormonal rush for another man that a heterosexual has for a lady. If we give this [an] okay and it’s protected. Will you allow that man, who has a rush when he sees another man that he likes, he will now be the P.E. teacher of your son. It’s like allowing a man to go into a woman’s shower room, when the high school girls are showering, and if a man is there, he’s going to have emotional struggles, because the hormones are going to be pumping in him. Well, if you take that same person that gets that not from women, but from other men, that’s P.E. teacher. Now, what’s going to happen? What about a lesbian teacher going in the same hotel room with her teammates as they travel? She’s got the same feelings now for the ladies, God made me that way. Now, what are we going to do? It’s like having some guy take your daughter on a basketball trip and he staying in the same hotel room. So is that okay?

“If it really is God made, we’ll have to register all the gay people so it will make sure they don’t teach P.E. to my kids. Because God made you that way. Do you understand the ramifications that we have to think through? It’s crazy.

We need to be able to have appropriate discrimination. Because if you have no discriminatory ability, then you have no wisdom. So if they say, “No discrimination,” you’re in trouble.”

His suggestion that all homosexuals have inappropriate feelings toward children is disgustingly bigoted.  Homosexuals share the same level of professionalism and conduct as heterosexual individuals.  By his thinking, heterosexuals are incapable of  dealing with children of the opposite sex.

What I found most disturbing, was his suggestion that we will need to register all of the gay people.  I’m not sure how this relates to civil unions, besides being an attempt to scare his congregation into opposing HB444.  How will civil unions lead gay people to take jobs to abuse our youth?

Let people think for themselves.  I have friends and family members who attend New Hope’s services.  They are very smart, and clear thinking.  I’m sure the congregation of New Hope is filled with great minds.  Why do they need convincing?  Is he afraid that maybe some will see that same-sex couples deserve the same rights as other members of our community?

“Appropriate discrimination.”  Isn’t that oxymoronic?  I didn’t know there were still people around that actually supported discrimination in any form.  Thank you Wayne Cordeiro for enlightening me.

Mr. Cordeiro you are fostering hate in a world that in dire need of more compassion and cooperation.  Your backward thinking and scare tactics only harm this loving place that is our home.  I hope the people of Hawaii can rise above your dangerous message of hate.

I want address a phrase that has been used numerous times by opponents of both HB444 and gay rights.  (I make no distinction between those who oppose civil unions or same-sex marriage and those who broadly oppose gay rights.)

“We have evidence after evidence about the medical dangers of a homosexual lifestyle.” –Gary Okino

I can only assume, by that bigoted statement, that Mr. Okino was referring to a promiscuous lifestyle of unprotected sex and drug use.  While I’m sure there are homosexuals who live this way there are also heterosexuals who also live a life of promiscuity and risky behavior.

Has anyone from the same school of thought ever took a step back from their hot headed, quick-to-fire arguments and really examined the issues of a “homosexual lifestyle?”  Perhaps if homosexuals were given the ability to sanction their relationships, perhaps through civil unions, they would then have an instrument to form a family with someone they love?  After all, isn’t family the foundation of our society?

Despite being barred by law to marry, there are homosexual couples who don’t live lives of promiscuity and illicit drug use, and are monogamous.  There are homosexuals who want to commit to live a life with one and only one other person.  If that other person happens to be of the same gender, how does that harm our community?

The “homosexual lifestyle” of which Gary Okino and Mike Gabbard would have you think, is not isolated to the homosexual community alone.  As in the heterosexual community, homosexuals lead lives in many different ways.  Stereotyping the entire gay community to further discriminatory ideals is very dangerous, especially coming from leaders in our community who know better or who should know better.

I’m sure you’ve already heard the news.  The Senate Committee vote ended in a deadlock.  Here is how the committee members voted.

Yes (Voted to pass HB444)

  • State Senator Brian Taniguchi, D-10th (Manoa, McCully)
  • State Senator Dwight Takamine, D-1st (Hamakua, South Hilo)
  • State Senator Clarence Nishihara, D-18th (Waipahu, Crestview, Pearl City)

No (Voted against HB444)

  • State Senator Mike Gabbard, D-19th (Kapolei, Makakilo, Waikele)
  • State Senator Robert Bunda, D-22nd (North Shore, Wahiawa)
  • State Senator Sam Slom, R-8th (Kahala, Hawai`i Kai)

State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said she supports recalling the bill for a full vote by the senate.  Please urge your senator to support HB444.

To find out how to contact your representatives read a post from Capsun.org, “Be An Informed Citizen” which can be found here: http://capsun.org/2009/01/21/be-an-informed-citizen-this-session/.  This post is filled with great resources not just for this bill but for any bill you want more information about.

If you missed Honolulu City Councilman Gary Okino’s testimony against House Bill 444, here is some of what he had to say.

“You know, I think if you know the facts of this, that you will see that this is a very dangerous piece of legislation to pass. Um, let’s start with God first, okay? I’m a Christian, as most of us are. I’m not going to go through all the scriptures or whatever, but just to tell you that when God says [that] something is not good, you better abide by what he says. Otherwise there will be some serious consequences. It’s not because we hate homosexual, I think it’s because we have compassion for the homosexuals and what they would do to themselves by this. Let’s start with that first, okay? Let’s talk about the health impacts of homosexuality. We have evidence after evidence about the medical dangers of a homosexual lifestyle. You can go to the department of health website where you can see the incidence of diseases, of AIDS, of STDs, that are almost exclusively within the homosexual population. Worldwide, nationwide, they are a number of diseases that occur almost exclusively in the homosexual population and are almost non-existent in the heterosexual population. So when God says that marriage is between a man and a woman, it’s because parts fit, okay?”

I would just like to thank Councilman Okino for his compassion toward homosexuals.  Thank God he’s not going to let the homosexuals do that to themselves.

Good thing he taught everybody about them disease that only the homosexuals have.  (If there is anyone reading who bought that made-up baloney, ask your mommy and she’ll clarify.)

Nice jab at the end there too!  What a respectful, upstanding, Hawaii politician Gary Okino is.

Now what I really think.  I think that Councilman Okino’s statements were misleading and incredibly damaging to the homosexual community.  His bigotry and backward thinking is where the real danger lies.  Everyone has a right to believe what they want, but when you try to impose your personal beliefs on the rest of the members of society, I think you are doing the community a diservice.

Welcome!

I started this blog after watching emotional testimony at a hearing on HB444, the bill that would give same-sex couples the same benefits afforded to married couples through the legalization of Civil Unions.

I watched as people of different upbringings, different ages, and different backgrounds testified before the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee.  People on both sides of the issue came out swinging, with sharp language and emotional pleas.  A recurring theme throughout testimony in opposition was religious beliefs.  A point I will address in length in a later post.

I am not going to say that I am netural on the issue.  As the title of my blog should imply, I fully support gay rights and equal treatment for same-sex couples.  I applaud all those who bravely testified in support of HB444.  I was especially moved by the young people who made their way to the podium to testify.  It takes courage to stand up and speak, espcially after you hear parents and community leaders so carelessly trample the very rights of which you are speaking in support.

We hope to bring some much needed attention to those who support the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members of our community.  We invite everyone to respectfully join our discussion.  If you want to share something with the readers, please contact us via email: equalityhawaii@gmail.com

Mahalo,

Equality Hawaii

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