Thursday, February 26, 2009
The Aloha State's Crowd of Hate
In a state that voted Obama into office with a larger majority than any other in the country, a vicious battle is going on between those who believe that rights should be stripped from a portion society because of what a religious text say and those who simply wish to expand the human rights of their state. I am so sad to see what is going on in my home. In the state that I grew up to know as so progressive and so caring, thousands of people are gathering to oppose the passage of a bill to create civil unions. Even though the Hawaii legislature voted to adopt same-sex marriage in 1993, after the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act in federal legislature, the Hawaii state constitution became the first to adopt a "defense of marriage" amendment to ban gay marriage in 1998.
Now, a decade later, some states have passed legislation to allow same-sex marriage and even more have civil unions available to gay couples. Hawaii is attempting to catch up with this transition in that the legislature is now considering a bill to create real civil unions with the same rights as marriages. The bill passed the house with a solid majority and has now entered the senate to be voted upon. I am ashamed to see that at the same time, thousands of christian protesters are vehemently fighting against this bill. Dressed all in red and carrying signs which read "God judges the wicked everyday" and "No same-sex marriage by another name," these hateful Hawaiian residents break my heart. Since the state cannot pass same-sex marriage protection according to the constitutional amendment, HB 444, which is currently trapped in committee in the senate, only seeks to create civil unions without the title of marriage. This means that the protesters in front of the capital on Sunday do not simply oppose the adoption of the official term marriage by same sex couples, but are opposed to gay couples having these rights at all.
These people stand preaching hate, exclusionism and limitations on democracy in a time when people have fought for civil rights for hundreds of years in this country and when too many of our fellow Americans are suffering. I fear that these people will have to explain to their grandchildren one day that, in the great domestic fight for civil rights in their generation, they fought on the side of hate. They will have to explain that they wanted theocracy and a history of repressing human rights to persist, and they will have to explain that they lost. In an ashaming and repressive history of American existence, we have shown that prejudice and ignorance cannot fight out democracy for too long. The people who boasted their hate in Hawaii this week will have to learn this lesson one day.
If I were to pray to a God, I would pray that the Hawaii legislature and the country at large would vote on the side of love and that we as a country would be able to move towards inclusion into democracy.