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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages & civil unions in Hawaii

Concerning HB 444: Factors that may be
influencing Gov. Lingles' decision on civil unions.

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Governor Lingle's decision:

This essay refers to a decision that Governor Linda Lingle was forced to make concerning a civil unions bill in Hawaii during mid-2010. The Hawaii legislature passed the bill by healthy margins of 72% in the Senate and 61% in the House. She has the option of vetoing the bill, signing it into law, or doing nothing and watching the bill become law by default on 2010-JUL-06.

Although the details of the bill are uniquely Hawaiian, many thousands of legislators across the U.S. and Canada are faced with the same type of decision: do they follow their oath of office and the Constitution, or do they follow the dictates of their religion, political party, or public opinion, or some combination of the above?

Governor Lingle (R) is obviously treating her decision on civil unions very seriously. She has had it under consideration since the end of 2010-APR.

She is being pulled in different directions:

  • Constitution: Her primary responsibility as governor is to the Constitution of Hawaii as she promised in her oath of office. More specifically, it is to conform to the interpretation of the Constitution by the Hawaii Supreme Court, and not as interpreted by herself, her political party, her faith group, or any other source. The Court decided in 1993 that same-sex and opposite-sex couples who wished to register their relationship with the government must receive equal benefits, privileges, and protections for themselves and their children. This did not mean that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry, but only that they receive the same benefits from the state as married couples do.

  • Religion: She has a separate responsibility to her faith. She attends services at the local Reform Jewish synagogue. Their rabbi and the Reform movement generally looks upon the civil union / same-sex marriage question from a civil rights perspective. She believes that the Jewish community is split over civil unions. Rabbi Peter Schaktman of the Reform Temple Emanu-El disagrees, saying that most local Jews support equal rights. We suspect that both are right: the community is split, and most favor equal rights.

  • The people: She has a responsibility to the people of Hawaii. About 34% of the Hawaiian population considers itself Judeo-Christian; this is less than half the percentage of mainland U.S. Others are Buddhists, follow other religions, or are affiliated with no religion.
    • Most conservative and some mainline believers of different faiths are unalterably opposed to equal rights for persons of minority sexual orientation. Although their reaction falls within one definition of "homophobia" -- a desire to discriminate against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals (GLBs) -- it is not necessarily based on hatred of GLBs as many of the latter believe.

      Many of these believers hold certain beliefs in common:

      • They honestly believe that they react to GLBs out of love and concern for the latter's well being, and the well being of same-sex couples' children.

      • Homosexual and bisexual orientations are chosen lifestyles.

      • Same-sex behavior is a serious sin, irrespective of the nature of the relationship.

      • God hates same-sex behavior.

      • With some effort, either homosexuals or bisexuals can be changed to heterosexual and become ex-gay through reparative therapy or transformational ministry.

      • Homosexual and bisexual orientations are caused during childhood by poor parenting and/or sexual molestation.

      • Sexually active GLBs cannot attain Heaven after death but will be tortured for all eternity in Hell. Recently, many conservative religious groups have been downplaying the pain of Hell and emphasizing isolation from God.

      • Civil unions are either equivalent to same-sex marriage, or are the first major step towards same-sex marriage.

      • Recognizing same-sex relationship is a threat to opposite-sex marriage and to the complementary gender roles on which is based.

      Thus, most believe that GLBs should be encouraged to change their sexual orientation to heterosexual. If GLBs were to obtain equal rights via HR 444, they might be disinclined to try to change and become "Ex-gay."

    • Most liberals and some mainline believers of different faiths, and secularists -- as well as therapists and human sexuality researchers -- support equal rights for persons of minority sexual orientation. Most of them hold certain beliefs in common:

      • They honestly believe that they react to GLBs out of love and concern for the latter's well being, and the well being of same-sex couples' children.

      • Homosexual and bisexual orientations are discovered, not chosen, by the individual.

      • Same-sex behavior, like opposite-sex behavior is morally neutral. Whether it is a sin or not depends upon the nature of the relationship, and whether the behavior is safe, and consensual.

      • If God exists, he, she, or they enjoy human diversity, including persons of all sexual orientations: heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual.

      • Sexual orientation is rarely if ever changeable in adulthood.

      • Homosexual and bisexual orientations are caused by genes, perhaps turned on or off by some unknown environmental factor in early childhood.

      • The eternal destiny, if any, of sexually active GLBs will be decided on the same basis as persons of other sexual orientations.

      • Civil unions are the first step towards same-sex marriage.

      • Same-sex relationships does not represent a threat to opposite-sex marriage. It merely increases the number of people -- and their children -- whose relationships are recognized and protected by the government.

      Thus, most believe that persons of all sexual orientations should be encouraged to accept and value their orientation and consider seeking a long-term sexual partner.

  • The political party: Governor Lingle is a leader in the state Republican party. The party passed a motion at their convention earlier in 2010 strongly opposing civil unions. That party has aligned with religious conservatives across the U.S. in opposition to any recognition of loving, committed same-sex relationships, or any augmentation of hate-crime legislation to include sexual orientation, or an end to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy of the U.S. military, or protection of employment for persons of all sexual orientations. Votes on such measures are often on a straight party basis.

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Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage > HI > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > HI > here

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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2010-JUN-22
Latest update and review: 2010-JUN-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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