Hawaii Legislature disappoints same-sex marriage proponents

The Tuesday, Feb. 12 deadline for Hawaii’s House to schedule a hearing for HB1109 relating to same-sex marriages came and went without any action to set a date, effectively deferring Hawaii’s chance for same-sex marriage rights until 2014. Now members of the LBGTQ community and Democratic Party say they’re disappointed in the Democrat-dominated Legislature’s failure to show commitment to the rights of same-sex couples.

House Bill 1109 would “Extend to same-sex couples the right to marry and to receive all the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage as opposite-sex couples receive under the laws of the State of Hawaii” and was supported by members of the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization dedicated to achieving equality for LBGTQ Americans. On Feb. 11, the group organized a movement of members and supporters at the Capitol Rotunda in Honolulu, “with hundreds of supporters making their voices heard by speaking face to face with their legislators.”

“It’s not over,” the group wrote on Feb. 15 after the apparent failure of legislators to meet the deadline. “The bill remains ‘alive’ through 2014. We join Hawaii United for Marriage in encouraging supportive legislators to take affirmative steps to advance marriage equality now and to set the stage for action,” the organization wrote, referring to procedural mechanisms which could still move the bill this year. Yet, the group admitted, “the more likely outcome is that marriage equality will be placed on hold for the remainder of 2013.”

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus expressed further disappointment in Hawaii Democrats for a failure in leadership and commitment to the party platform, stating, “It is particularly disconcerting that the failure in the House was due to ’lack of political will’–not lack of votes, but lack of commitment to the Democratic Platform.”

“Even more disconcerting,” their statement continues, “is the number of Democrats who signed on to HB1020 and SB 1292, a proposed Constitutional Amendment to restrict marriage to one man and one woman (a State Defense of Marriage Amendment).  HB1020 and its Senate companion SB 1292 are diametrically opposed to the national platform, which states in pertinent part, ‘We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples.’”

Supporters like Michael Golojuch, Jr., Chair, Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Caucus, Democratic Party of Hawaii  nonetheless remain resolved: “We will continue this fight until we have the same freedom to marry granted to opposite-sexed couples.”

UPDATE:

As this post was being edited, Golojuch sent a new press release stating that his organization will now file charges against multiple Democratic Party legislators.

“Our platform provides the guiding principles for the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i and SB 1292 and HB 1020 clearly fly in the face of our Party’s platform,” he said in the Feb. 19 press release. “To be a member of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i you do not need to support the Party’s entire platform but you cannot work against the platform. The GLBT Caucus looks forward to proving our charges at the Oahu and Hawai‘i County Committees.”

According to the press release, the legislators and party officials are Senators Mike Gabbard and Donna Mecardo Kim, Representatives Sharon Har, Henry J.C. Aquino, Karen Awana, Ty J.K. Cullen, Ken Ito, John M. Mizuno, Calvin K.Y. Say, K. Mark Takai and Clift Tsuji.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.