Tuesday, May 4, 2010


TIME: The time elapsed since our piece last Friday hasn’t done anything to help us figure out how to sort out the reasons for- and thereby find a way to communicate- the conflation of civil unions and same gender marriage- or more actually “same ‘sex’ marriage” as opponents say, preferring to use the much more emotionally-packed term over the word that communicates a more neutral connotation.

Obviously there are the disingenuous who seek to confuse the issue given the knee-jerk reaction to the word marriage. But there are also the genuinely confused who are easily manipulated by the continual reference to marriage even after proponents gave up on full equality in addition to obtaining the enumerated rights conferred in civil unions.

The motives of some are transparently to deceive, such as those expressed in today’s local newspaper by the always conniving and smarmy Jimmy Tokioka who, when asked why he voted against civil unions responded that “state law indicates that marriage is valid only between a man and a woman” according to a paraphrase by the reporter who quoted Tokioka as saying:

“Again the concern from many is about ‘marriage’ — an issue that, if the Supreme Courts should ever opine, would make it clear what the separation of church and state actually means in regards to ‘marriage.’

“Until then Hawaii Revised Statutes clearly spells out the issue of marriage being between one man and one woman.

But then there are also those that allegedly responded to Tokioka’s manipulation after:

In addition to polling constituents via U.S. mail, Tokioka also sent out e-mails to constituents that read in part: “I hope you know that this issue was very difficult for me and I believe many others to make.”

They naturally repeat what they read and hear and probably, through no disingenuity on their part, actually believe that the bill is still a “same sex marriage” measure.

So why do we rehash this?

We assume a veto is in the cards having watched Unified Commander Lingle in action for almost eight years. And that means that we have to do one of two things.

The first option is to stop allowing those in the media to perpetuate the confusion and include in every reference to “same sex marriage” in an article about cavil unions a distinction between the two as a factual matter.

If every time they did it- which has been every day since passage and will most likely be every day until the veto- they got a handful of letter reminding them of the facts of the matter it would at least end the reinforcement through repetition- or “the big lie” as it’s called.

But we’ve got to wonder if it’s too late and the conflation has taken hold to the extent that it’s irreversible.

We’ve been speaking to some proponents over the last few days and it’s becoming apparent that with the failure during this two-year legislative cycle- as well as the one before- there’s a movement to play the final card... filing suit, the second possibility.

Although the makeup of the Hawai`i Supreme Court has changed since the early 90’s decision saying that denying same gender marriage was unconstitutional- which led to the 1998 constructional amendment allowing the legislature to restrict marriage to a man and an woman- the basic premise is the same.

The decision was based on the fact that the actual rights conferred to two people in a marriage were- and now are still- unavailable to some and the only difference is gender- a protected class under the Hawai`i state constitution.

Some say that after eight years of Republican Lingle’s appointments we should follow a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude toward the supreme court.

The question is whether we can we count on supposedly sober jurists to make the distinction. Whether or not may not matter as much as the answer to the question of how much longer we’re supposed to wait for civil rights.

For the past 12 years we’ve reluctantly given up on the fight for the word “marriage” and taken a “give the babies their bottle” approach. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up the milk even if we have to use a sippy cup to enjoy it.

No comments: