Gay Marriage Hawaii. It has been a long battle starting back in the 90’s. The battle went back and forth with much political and legal maneuvering between the legislature and courts and finally was shot down. In 2011 a Civil Unions bill was passed after several bloody years of battling the religious right. In 2013 the Marriage Equality Bill pass in a special session and was signed into law by the governor.  

It was a strange two weeks while the special session debated the issue. 5,184 people testified on the bill and after some of the most ridiculous allegations by an ignorant, mis-informed, opposition the bill easily passed the Senate and the House.

After the bill had been passed by the Senate and was waiting to be heard in the House, many members of the Christian clergy supporting the bill held a press conference in the outdoor rotunda. People in opposition to the bill surrounded the press conference and chanted loudly and repeatedly, let the people vote. The chanters were quite violent and started pushing people aside and were amazing disrespectful of the Christian clergy gathered there. One person tried to wrestle the microphone away from the moderator. The clergy joined hands and started singing Amazing Grace. One of the women opposing the bill shouted at them, very angry, “that’s our song, you can’t sing our song!” The people opposing the bill finally moved off a short distance but kept chanting, let the people vote, their chanting drowned out the press conference and kept on for several hours after the press conference was over..

And if that was not bizarre enough, when the vote was taken in the Senate an openly gay Democrat (lesbian) voted against the bill. It was two weeks of amazing drama in every direction. Amazing power struggles even for Hawaii. The opposition claim to be Christians but I think we need another name for them. From now on I will call them snaits, Christian spelled backwards is snaitsirhc, snaits for short.

The opposition comes from a very large non-denominational church called New Hope, the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church. It seemed to me from observing those people who came to the Capitol that the opposition was made up for the most part of immigrants from the South Pacific and the Philippines.

The US and French governments bombed many Pacific islands during the A bomb testing years. The natives on these islands were moved to other islands disrupting their culture and lifestyles. They were put  on welfare and food stamps and they have remained that way for several generations. But, they are sick, high rate of cancer of all sorts. So many move here for medical treatment. And join New Hope and come to the Capitol under orders from their preachers and scream in my face that I am going to Hell. I don’t mind that they think I am going to Hell (I point out to them that you have to believe in Hell in order to go there…) They had signs that said Gay Marriage will ruin straight marriage. I am not sure how that works exactly but they were very concerned. An amendment was attached to the gay marriage bill that said churches could not be fined if they refused to do a gay marriage. They thought they would be forced to marry gay couples. What gay couple in their right mind would ask them? Desperate and very frightened.

I have been so very surprised at my anger at them and how quick I was to stereotype them and distain them as people who are slow to learn English, happy to remain on welfare and food stamps like they got back home and live 15 people in the one bedroom apartment. I have always thought myself as a tolerant person but my anger at them blindsided me here I was trashing these folks because they refused to see my side of the argument.

When I take a breath and take a good look at my anger, I am relatively sure that if I appeared on their doorstep as simply a disabled old lady in a wheelchair suffering from chronic pain, in need of transportation to a doctor’s appointment, company and meal now and then, they would embrace me. They would visit me in the hospital, stick by me through cancer treatments and hold my hand when I died. Of this I am sure. I am sure that except for the LGBT issue they are “good Christians” following what they believe to be the teachings of the Christ.

I take another breath and try to walk a mile in their moccasins. What if a group of people I find abhorrent rose up demanding their civil rights to live their lives the way they see fit. What if, for instance, pedophiles demanded their right to love anyone they choose and demanded the law be changed so that pedophilia would no longer be considered a crime.  I would be outraged! I would never understand how it was a right to cause children such damage. I might be tempted to call them names when they refused to enter into a dialog with me, when they refused to see the reason of my position.

I take another breath and try to get in touch with their fear for they appeared to me very fearful and desperate. They carry their Bibles with them everywhere. I breathe in again, a feel their need for answers in this complicated world where there is no black and white. Anything goes. There was a time not so long ago when the world was pretty much black and white. It was easy to discern good from evil. My grandmother born in 1874 had few doubts about what was right until the time she died in 1960. Good was white people, Christians, Americans, heterosexuals, everything else was bad or to be pitied. And then the world changed, a horrible bloody World War I left the Western World with PSTD, WWII sent our “boys” into many foreign lands where it expanded their horizons, and off to Korean and Vietnam Wars, and now, the Gulf Wars.  These modern “Crusades” shook up American ideas of just about everything. People who were our enemies now it seems they are people just like us.

With the advent of modern communications we now know every detail about every atrocity in the world. We see horrifying pictures of the mutilated dead whether it be from man-made or natural causes. There was time not so long ago we only knew what went on in our neighborhood. And if we knew about an earthquake in Peru in was in a story in the newspaper with a photo or two. We are bombarded 24/7 with news that has nothing to do with us. We are told about genocides, skin heads attacking immigrants, students shooting up the school with automatic weapons. I too wish this all made sense and I can see why a charismatic preacher who shouts from the pulpit, we know right from wrong here, I am the Way follow me attracts a following. And having an identifiable enemy strengthens their cause. Mob mentality takes over very quickly as was demonstrated at the press conference. I too wish for a simpler world, but as an author I admire once said, you will suffer in life to the same degree you wish things were different.

I forgive those fervent Christians, I get it. I am scared too. But I think we need to huddle together in our fear, support and understand each other not yell in each other’s faces. I would like to start a dialog with the members of New Hope, I would like to sit down over lunch and talk about our families, our hopes and dreams. I want that woman who was so angry about Amazing Grace to experience grace, I want her to know why every Christian church in the world sings that song. 



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