By Steve Morgan
On Oct. 29, thousands of people rallied at the state capitol in protest to SB1, Relating to Equal Rights, also known as the Hawaii same-sex marriage bill. Possibly one of the largest rallies ever held at the capitol, this event was followed by five days of testimony with a final tally showing that 87 percent of those who testified in person opposed same-sex marriage. Of the published 10,749 letters of written testimony, approximately 80 percent were in opposition to the bill.
Several residents from Molokai testified in opposition including OHA Chair Colette Machado who went on record stating that she felt that the bill was flawed and the process rushed.
Also in opposition was Molokai and Lanai Rep. Mele Carroll who had been personally threatened by members of the LGBT community. Carroll stated that she felt that the process was not transparent, amounting to a government betrayal of the people. “Let the people vote” became the familiar chant within the capitol, which in the end had little impact on the final decision.
As a result of the events of the past week, two alterations did take place within the construction of the bill: 1. The parental clause was eliminated, which could have interfered with Native Hawaiian recognition, 2. Increased accommodations for religious institutions.
Despite the changes, the bill failed to acknowledge the religious rights of private business owners. Several testifiers voiced their concerns, citing a court decision in April 2013 in which Phyllis Young, owner of Aloha Bed and Breakfast on Oahu, was found guilty and not being in compliance with state law when she refused to rent out the bedroom in her home to a lesbian couple. Mrs. Young stated that her religious convictions did not allow her to rent to either homosexual couples or unmarried couples. The choice given to Mrs. Young was clear, shut down her business or compromise her religious values.
Another concern repetitively heard was in regard to same-sex curriculum within our schools. Although no educational provisions exist within the same-sex marriage bill, many who testified were clearly concerned that the “normalization” of same-sex marriage would find its way into the classroom. Questions were also raised in regard to other bills that might follow.
Out of the 15 states that have allowed for same-sex marriage, four states have mandatory “same-sex friendly” school curriculum with two more states in the developmental process. A California bill making LGBT recognition in school curriculum mandatory was introduced by gay activist and senator Mark Leno.
More alarming was a follow-up bill spearheaded by Leno nicknamed the “transgender bathroom law.” The bill, AB1266, requires that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school activities, and be able to use facilities (bathrooms, showers, locker rooms) consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records. In clear language, this law states that if a guy feels like he is a girl, that guy now has legal access to use the girls bathrooms, showers and locker rooms at all California public schools. These and other bills passed in the wake of same-sex marriage have clearly caused alarm.
In the words of one testifier, “So what’s next? Bisexual marriage, polygamy or incestuous marriage? Thirty years ago same-sex marriage was unimaginable … As they say, it’s all about love and equality!”