Tuesday, May 18, 2010


HOCUS JOKUS: Two weeks ago today we let loose on the homophobic religious community and their disingenuous shift from defense of the word “marriage” in 1998 to a slimy attempt to conflate civil unions with their precious “M” word today and the way the corporate media contributed to this, having previously cited a post by Honolulu Advertiser columnist Dave Shapiro as an example.

We said it gave Governor Linda “Dash to the Right” Lingle a way out of her 2002 campaign statement saying she supported domestic partnerships paving the way to an expected veto of HB 444, the civil unions bill.

Now, after Lingle said to a rabid hate group- the GOP state convention- this weekend that civil union is just another word for marriage it seems Shapiro is beginning to get the message saying her statement “would seem to end speculation about whether she intends to veto HB 444... By defining HB 444 as equivalent to marriage rather than domestic partnerships, she appears to be laying the groundwork for a veto that she can argue is consistent with her 2002 statement”.

In our May 4 post we attempted to lay out the real history of the way the bigot community had slithered into a redux rewrite of the ’98 debacle.

While falsely conflating “civil unions” and “same gender marriage” in the same breath they’ve drawn a line between the terms “domestic partnership” and “civil unions”- a conflation that in actuality was just an evolution of terminology... a distinction without a difference.

In perusing the comments on Shapiro’s own apparent evolution we came upon a pair that we thought were superior in clarity and historic value describing much the same thing we tried to get across a couple of weeks ago.

So since it’s getting harder to type with every character we’re re-posting a couple of blurbs from our friend “Kolea” today in hopes that his clarity can provide assistance in the coming months as the struggle for civil rights for same gender couples moves from the legislative to the judicial stage.

First he addresses the contention that there’s no difference between marriage and civil unions- the contention that members of the civil rights movement are somehow the ones playing word games in trying to pass a same gender marriage measure by calling it civil unions.

(edited for typos/spelling)

There is no ambiguity in the bill. It basically says that couples in a civil union shall have all the rights and responsibilities of marriage under state law. The real legal differences are that CUs will not be recognized by Federal law and in most other states. This last point is not a minor consideration. A couple married in Hawaii would have their marriage recognized in other states, so common property laws, visitation rights, inheritance, etc are portable. When a married couple from Hawaii moves to another state and, tens years down the road decide to split up, there is a well-defined legal structure for dissolving that relationship, the divorce laws. Not so with civil unions.

The civil union advocates are not being "crafty" about any of this. They WANT full marriage equality. All couples, regardless of sexual orientation, should be married under the same law. No "Separate But Equal." And no "Separate But Unequal."

But because social conservatives are irrationally attached to the word "marriage" and resist extending it to same sex couples, the Civil Union advocates decided a couple of years ago to postpone the demand for full marriage equality and accept the lesser rights of "Civil Unions" AS A STEP TOWARDS FULL MARRIAGE EQUALITY.

So rather than being "crafty" or dishonest, the advocates were making a concession to social conservatives in the hopes they would be mollified. 18 months is a long time, but prior to the start of the 2009 legislative session, it was extremely common for many conservatives to say about the issue:

"I am willing to support equal rights to gay couples, but why do they INSIST upon calling it 'marriage'? Marriage is only for a man and a woman. They should call it something else."

Once GLBT community acceded to that demand in the hopes of a compromise, the Right shifted their position and started saying, "Aha! These crafty gays are playing word games! They are still demanding marriage, but under a different name!"

I'll let you in on a secret plot. Marriage equality advocates are willing to accept civil unions as a temporary settlement. It is their belief, it is also MY belief, that civil unions will grant meaningful rights to gay and lesbian couples now, that the vast majority of "straight" people will come to recognize gay couples as their friends and neighbors rather than some scary or weird "other," and acceptance of full marriage equality will quickly become the dominant attitude in the community.

Then he gives the background of the real apparent disingenuity in many of the statements made back in ’98 as opposed to those from the same people now.


While I agree with your overall account, I think you are making more of a distinction between civil unions and "domestic partnerships" than was understood at the time of Lingle's promise to the gay and lesbian community in 2002. The terms have evolved and become distinct in Hawaii in only the last few years. In the 90s, the "some of the rights" package was called "reciprocal beneficiaries," and "domestic partnership" was a stronger concept, meaning, essentially, all the rights and benefits of marriage but without the title. In some states, the law reflects this and "domestic partnership" is exactly equivalent to what we are now calling "civil unions in Hawaii.

Since we are engaging in time travel in order to understand the context of her pledge, readers might be surprised to know that as recently as 2002, all three major candidates for Governor: Case, Hirono and Lingle, were actively courting the leadership of the gay and lesbian community.

During the fight over the 1998 constitutional amendment on marriage, Case and Hirono had both been strong defenders of equal marriage rights. Lingle had NOT been. But Lingle still had a strong core group of lesbian activists who were personally committed to her and the issue of who the community would support was very much in contention.

A series of presentations were made at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center by the candidates. At her presentation, Lingle was questioned about the constitutional amendment and whether she would veto a bill for same sex marriage if it were to cross her desk. She said she would not support same sex marriage but if the legislature were to pass a domestic partnership bill and it came across her desk, she would allow it to become law without her signature.

Again, what was meant by "domestic partnership" in those days was the same thing as what is currently being called "civil unions." Lingle's promise was not just another campaign pledge, it was an explicit promise made to a specific group of people, some of whom went on to work hard for her election. After the election, she did support efforts to create a local chapter of a gay GOP organization, the Log Cabin Republicans, even featuring a speaker from the organization at a GOP Hawaii state convention.

But those were different times. Lingle was first elected as a moderate, even "liberal" Republican. There is very little tolerance today in the national GOP and that has spread to Hawaii, where the moderates have traditionally dominated the party leadership and membership. They are now laying low, hiding their beliefs, going along with the enraged right wing. There are a few noble exceptions, but Lingle is not one of them.

Lingle's betrayal of her campaign promise is just confirming the cynicism of people who had relied upon her word. In the last few months, I have heard gay activists repeatedly say they expected her, in the final lonely minute, to remain true to her promise and her inner truth.

She is not just breaking a campaign pledge. If she vetoes this, she is betraying her sisters who supported her, defended her and worked hard for her election. I think her ambitions for success in an ever more reactionary national GOP will trump the public pledge she made to those sisters in that room, back in 2002.

1 comment:

vegreef said...

So tired of these wackos, who have somehow gained acceptance into a right-wing that was previously just benignly facsist - turning even that once pure-economicly driven party into something more like a political party from the middle ages - witch and queer killings and all. Disgusting, those claim-to-be-Christians and all of their hate filled concepts that would criminalize anything but drunken Jesus-loving heterosexual missionary-position, purely for reproductive purposes because the GMO diet has made us too fat for any pure thoughts of sex.
And those of the mindset of "kill or jail them all now and let God sort it out later" because "Ahh know" the lord hates homos" have been almost obsessed in the last 20 years with obtaining public office. And they don't just want the government to refrain from endorsing gay relationships: They would even have the taxpayer funding to police and jail these people if they could pull it off. No wonder America is bankrupt. What a fortune we spend indulging the nonsensical whims of the right wing of the Republican party.
Sensible people need to get serious and start weeding out this fake-religious sentiment out of the oublic politic once and for all.