Monday, October 12, 1998

Campaign '98

Lt. Gov. Hirono
says she’s against
same-sex measure

The proposed amendment would limit
court review of legislative action, she says

By Mike Yuen


Democratic Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono says she will be voting "no" on a proposed constitutional amendment that could ban same-sex marriage in Hawaii.

She is the most prominent candidate to publicly take such a stand, as only three other politicians -- two House Democrats seeking re-election and a Republican seeking to regain her House seat -- have voiced a similar position.

Hirono said she does not support same-sex marriage nor sees the Nov. 3 ballot measure as a referendum on same-gender unions, as do those urging a "yes" vote.

But after what she called much soul-searching, Hirono said she came to the conclusion that the proposed amendment would mean an unprecedented change to the state Constitution that would limit court review of legislative action.

"At last, some of the public officials are seeing the light and getting the message," said Jackie Young, campaign director for Protect Our Constitution, a political action committee urging rejection of the ballot measure.

The proposed amendment would change the Constitution to give the state Legislature the power to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples.

"There are right-minded people on both sides of this issue," said Hirono, who expressed no wish to become involved in a battle that has inflamed passions on both sides. "People need to look into their minds and vote as they see fit."

Hirono's boss, Gov. Ben Cayetano, has said he will be voting "yes" on the measure.

This, said Stan Koki, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor and who is against same-sex marriage, reveals that the Democratic ticket is "inconsistent" on the issue.

Not so, insisted Hirono, who has attacked the Republican ticket because Koki is pro-life while GOP gubernatorial nominee Linda Lingle is pro-choice but opposed to late-term abortions. "Abortion is a fundamental issue," Hirono said. "There are dramatic differences as far as I'm concerned."

Mike Gabbard, chairman of the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, a political action committee opposed to same-sex unions, said he wasn't surprised that Hirono would be voting "no" on the proposal to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.

He said he has a videotape of a 1994 candidates panel in which Hirono said she was in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Hirono's position gives a boost to those who want the proposed constitutional amendment defeated, Gabbard said, but gives a bigger boost to the united Lingle-Koki ticket. Lingle and Koki have said they'll be voting "yes" to give the Legislature the power to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

Opponents of the ballot measure said it took courage for Hirono to take the stand she did, particularly since she and Cayetano face what even some supporters admit is an uphill re-election fight.

Senate Co-Majority Leader Mike McCartney (D, Kaneohe), a member of Protect Our Constitution's executive committee, said it was easier for him to oppose the amendment since he is not seeking re-election.

"Because of the highly charged political atmosphere, it is hard for anyone to take a position," said McCartney, whose Windward district has many foes of same-sex marriage.

House Hawaiian Affairs Chairman Ed Case (D, Manoa) and House Ocean Recreation Chairman David Tarnas (D, Kailua-Kona) have said they're against the ballot measure, as has Eve Anderson, the Republican seeking to regain her Windward House seat.

Campaign '98

Koki decries images
in anti-amendment ads

He says wartime internment is not
relevant to a 'lifestyle' issue

By Mike Yuen


In full-page newspaper advertisements, images of the wartime internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans are being used to urge a "no" vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that could prohibit same-sex marriage.

But Stan Koki, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, believes what happened during World War II and the current ballot fight over whether to give the Legislature the authority to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, are incomparable.

"One is really something set in race. The other is a lifestyle and the sanctioning of that lifestyle," said Koki, who is of Okinawan ancestry. "No other jurisdiction in the world has sanctioned same-sex marriage. It is really not the same issue."

Clayton Ikei, president of the Japanese American Citizens League-Hawaii, which co-sponsored the ads with a political action committee affiliated with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization, said: "We respect his opinion. But we feel he is in error." Both involve depriving a minority group of "basic constitutional rights," Ikei said.

In 1994 the national JACL became one of the first nongay organizations to endorse same-sex marriage, declaring that marriage is a basic human right that should not be limited to opposite-sex couples.

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