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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSM) & civil unions in Hawaii

Concern over effect of SB1 on education (Cont'd)
Testimony concludes. Bill passes 2 committees.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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Webmaster's thoughts on SB1 and the school curriculum: (bias alert)

A major source of this concern over the effects of SB1 on the educational system is a great gulf in beliefs between:

  • Many religious and social conservatives, who sincerely believe that homosexuality is a behavior that is chosen, changeable, unnatural, abnormal, a sexual perversion, hated by God, and an activity that should be recriminalized.

  • The LGBT community, religious and social liberals, mental health professionals, and human sexuality researchers, who sincerely believe that homosexuality is a sexual orientation that is discovered, not chosen; usually or always fixed in adulthood, natural and normal for a minority of adults, a normal expression of sexuality and, if it is expressed in the form of same-sex sexual behavior in private, should remain decriminalized.

There is an additional source of conflict:

  • Parents have the primary responsibility to raise their children. A major goal of many parents is to instill their values in their children and grandchildren, unchanged.

  • The schools have the primary responsibility to educate children. A major goal of the primary schools is to prepare children to play an informed and active role in society when they become adults. A properly educated adult needs to have some knowledge about many hundreds of topics, of which a few are: aspects of human sexuality, sexual orientation, and marriage laws.

Thus a state of creative tension between conservative parents and the educational system is unavoidable.

The last time that marriage was redefined in the U.S. was in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage across the entire country. School curricula across the U.S. were subsequently revise to accommodate to the new reality. Students were taught that couples of all racial origins could marry. The same type of accommodation is happening today as a continually increasing number of states legalize same-sex marriage.

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2013-NOV-05: Testimony before the committees finally concludes.

There were 5,182 people registered to testify before the House Judiciary and Finance Committees, meeting in a joint session,. It took five full days totaling 60 hours to grind through all the testimony. Among those opposed to the bill, many of their speeches sounded similar. Popular themes were:

  • The bill is unconstitutional.

  • The bill would attack the civil rights of the heterosexual majority who want to live in a state where same-sex marriage is not permitted.

  • Children would be forced in school to hear details about same-gender sexual practices.

  • There are so many more important problems in the state that need correction that same-sex marriage should not be given such priority.

  • Stop the special session. Bypass the Legislature. Hold a plebiscite and let the people decide.

  • Homosexuality is a choice and readily changeable.

  • Homosexuality is against God's Word.

  • The process being followed by the Legislature is undemocratic.

  • Men will be able to dress as a girl and to go into girls' washrooms.

  • Churches will now be sued for refusing to marry same-sex couples.

  • There is going to be a lot of chaos, a lot of hatred.

  • One man, at the end of his testimony, held up a rubber electrical plug and an electrical socket to symbolically demonstrate opposite-sex sexual intercourse and indicate that same-sex marriage is wrong.

David Badash commented that the Hawaii Christian Coalition -- founded by well known evangelical Christian Pat Robertson -- bragged that they:

".. were able to extend the hearing by two additional days." 1

Some people cheated by testifying twice, or impersonating someone else.

Rep. Sylvia Luke said:

"90 percent of the information is duplicative, but we made a commitment to hear testimony, because this is a serious issue, and this is important for a lot of people. But if people are trying to get other people — or trying to testify on behalf of other people — then that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having this hearing." 2

Testimony by Tenari Maafala, the president of Hawaii's police union, startled many when he testified:

"You would have to kill me, disrespect and dishonor my father in heaven. You would have to kill me to impose these types of laws upon my children, and my nieces and my nephews. That is what i'm saying" 2

By "imposing these types of laws upon my children" he apparently did not mean that his children and other relatives would be forced to enter same-sex marriages. He seems to have meant that the laws would cause them to live in a state where marriage equality had been achieved.

He said that there are many more important problems for the state to address, like homelessness and drugs. He asserted that for a person to want to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying is not discrimination if it is against their religious beliefs.


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2013-NOV-05: SB1 is altered with three amendments, passed by both House committees, and forwarded to the full House:

A majority of the legislators from the House Judiciary and Finance Committees, meeting in a joint session, voted to adopt three amendments to the bill:

  • The first amendment was largely redundant. It was patterned after a Connecticut law. It repeats the protections already found in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that allow churches to freely discriminate against same-sex couples who wish to get married.

This amendment would also expand the immunity from prosecution under the Public Accommodations law -- Hawaii's Human Rights legislation -- for both non-profit and profit-making religious organizations. The text reads:

    "... a religious organization or nonprofit organization operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization shall not be required to provide goods, services, or its facilities or grounds for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage that is in violation of its religious beliefs or faith...."

This freedom to discriminate is not sufficient for some who are opposed to SSM. As written, for-profit secular companies providing a public accommodation would appear to have to follow Hawaii's human rights legislation and provide services to same-sex couples wishing to get married. This would include wedding photographers, wedding cake bakers, etc. There is also some concern by church schools who want to be able to reject or expel children from their schools if their parents are of the same sex. 4,5

  • The second amendment "... deleted language from the bill that established guidelines for children of gay couples to claim state benefits for Native Hawaiians. 6

That change was reportedly prompted by concerns over the recording of native individuals' Hawaiian ancestry.

  • The third change delayed the effective date of the bill by slightly more than two weeks, from 2013-NOV-18 to DEC-02. This would allow the Department of Health to prepare for the onslaught of same-sex couples wishing to marry as soon as possible.

Many more amendments had been introduced from the floor, but none succeeded.

The amended bill was passed by the Judiciary Committee members by a vote of 8 to 5. Seven Democrats and one Republican voted in favor. Four Democrats and one Republican voted against the bill.

It was also passed by the Finance Committee by a vote of 10 to 7. Ten Democrats voted in favor. Four Democrats and three Republicans voted against the bill. 7

Since the combined membership of both committees constitute more than half of the full house, the bill is likely to eventually succeed.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and State Attorney General David Louie released a statement concerning SB1:

"The amendments outlined in House Draft 1 strike a balance between the bill that was introduced by the Legislature and concerns raised in written and oral testimony during public hearings.

We support the principle that any measure on marriage equity must protect religious freedom, which the Legislature has clearly worked to achieve.

The bill as amended is legally sound and is in accord with the Hawaii State Constitution.

We urge the Legislature to pass this bill, which will provide marriage equity and fully recognize religious beliefs in that context." 8

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. David Badash, "Pat Robertson Created Group Behind Massive Anti-Gay Hate In Hawaii’s Marriage Hearings," The New Civil Rights Movement, 2013-NOV-05, at:
  2. David Badash, "Hawaii House Committees Vote Yes On Same-Sex Marriage Bill," The New Civil Rights Movement, 2013-NOV-05, at:
  3. "Reps. McDemott & Ward Q&A Tenari Ma'afala at the Capitol,: You Tube, 2013-NOV-05, at:
  4. "Hawaii State Senate prepares for House amendments to same sex marriage bill," KITV-TV video, 2013-NOV-07, at:
  5. Chad Blair and Nathan Eagle, "Hawaii Same-Sex Marriage Bill Finally Advances To House Vote," Huffington Post, 2013-NOV-08, at:
  6. Oskar Garcia, "Gay marriage goes to final Hawaii House vote," Associated Press, 2013-NOV-08, at:
  7. Mileka Lincoln, "House committees pass Same-Sex Marriage bill, advances to floor for vote," Hawaii News Now, 2013-NOV-05, at:
  8. Governor and Attorney General statement on amendments to SB 1 -- relating to equal rights," State of Hawaii web site, 2013-NOV-06, at:

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Copyright ©2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2012-NOV-01
Latest update: 2013-NOV-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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