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Spineless lawmakers yield to bigots


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POSTED: Sunday, February 22, 2009

The people of Boston had the right idea to address taxation without representation with a tea party. Unfortunately, our harbor is too far from the Capitol for tea to make the same statement.

After 13 years of walking the halls of the Capitol working for equality, it's frustrating. Speaking with legislators via e-mail, faxes and letters, it is more than exasperating. All I want is economic justice for my son and all my GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) friends. Today, that's House Bill 444, for civil unions. HB 444 would bring justice and economic equality for this minority.

In the late 1990s a former governor told me that I acted like, walked like and talked like a Democrat and couldn't understand why I was a Republican. I countered with “;Well, once you get the elected Democrats to vote the equality platform, I'll be a Democrat.”; He finished the session saying that he couldn't influence the other Democrats to vote for social justice because they had a hard upcoming election. I've found that there is always an upcoming “;hard”; race.

Well, signing a membership card hasn't helped. There are still some elected Democratic legislators who ignore the U.S. Constitution, the national Democratic platform and the Democratic Party of Hawaii platform. It's always the same old sidestep: “;We don't have the power to force elected Democrats to abide by our platform.”; Odd that those who can't stand up for justice sign a contract with the DPH to uphold the party platform.

It's funny that Republicans use the same old excuse. Change the party, yet nothing changes. I won't give up. Many of us keep working to bring social justice from elected officials.

Some elected officials do not behave like they understand the responsibility of the U.S. Constitution. They need a warning, and then at least censure. For example, an old-time Democrat introduced me to a man running for party chairman by saying, “;You have something in common with each other.”; Then the candidate told me that he had a brother who died of AIDS, and enlisted my help with his mother because he said she still had issues. Now we find out that he has issues with upholding freedom and justice for all. He hasn't found it popular to vote for HB 444.

Then there's the Democrat who excuses her noncompliance with the U.S. Constitution and the DPH platform. She explained that in the 1998 election, 87 percent of her district voted to amend the state Constitution. I interjected that they voted to deny equal rights to a minority. Unfortunately, she said that the 87 percent represented 2,000 votes. She voted against HB 444.

Another vote against HB 444 involves a Republican who explained away her “;no”; vote by revealing that she had a gay sister who died of cancer. In a Feb. 13 Star-Bulletin story, she said, “;The last thing that I would want for her to feel in any way, shape or form is that I didn't love her for who she was.”; By voting against HB 444, does she thinks it's OK to deny her sister equal rights?

The anti-civil rights advocates keep quoting Scripture, so I say to them, why do you ignore Jesus' commandment to love one another? They need to go without tax benefits for their family, experience denial of hospital visitation rights, denial of spouse insurance benefits and a thousand plus other rights. We're not asking for “;special rights,”; we're asking for justice.

In spite of these dismal denials of social justice and economic equality, we will not give up. Denying anyone rights because of their race, ethnic background, age, gender, religious background or gender identity is wrong and unconstitutional. To deny these rights also is a violation of the 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision.

May all children enjoy being Americans with full rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of HB 444. May justice prevail.

 

The Rev. Carolyn Golojuch is president of PFLAG-Oahu.