Monday, November 11, 2013

Who sucked the aloha out of the Aloha State? Behaving badly over gay marriage: A commentary

Lauer
Churches encouraging people to cheat and lie?

A high-ranking police officer vowing "you would have to kill me," before he'd enforce a duly enacted law?

A House member comparing same-sex marriage to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks?

An openly gay state representative voting against the measure?

Who sucked the aloha out of the Aloha State?

You could say it's all over but the shouting. Unfortunately, the shouting started long ago. And it's sure to continue.

Among the most egregious actions in the past few weeks:

The pastor of one of Honolulu's mega-churches, in a bold "citizen's filibuster," encouraged his flock-- nay, whipped his flock into a frenzy-- to drag out their testimony, rally and even pull their kids out of school to carry signs opposing gay marriage. Nothing wrong with that; all part of the legislative process.

It's when the church began distributing a list of testifiers and encouraging its followers to testify under other people's names in order to speak more than once, that it crossed the line. Compounding the apparent moral lapse is confirmation from Capitol officials that a sign-up list was stolen from the clerk's check-in desk.

Meanwhile, Tenari Maafala, president of the cops union, State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, and an officer with the Honolulu Police Department, vowed not to enforce a gay marriage law should it pass. It is counter to his religious beliefs, he told a House panel.

Hawaii is wrapping up its special session on same-sex marriage, with both houses apparently settled on a bill that should get its final blessing Tuesday. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who called the special session after the Hawaii Legislature dragged its feet, has said he'll sign it.

In the gayest state in the union (trailing only Washington, D.C., according to a February 2013 Gallup poll) the real question is, "What's taken so long?"

Hawaii has wrestled with the issue for decades. The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled 20 years ago that the statute limiting marriage to heterosexual couples was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

But in 1998, voters in Hawaii approved a constitutional amendment empowering the Legislature to limit marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Ten years later, civil unions were created to allow same-sex couples to enjoy some of the benefits, if not the actual right to marry, that heterosexual couples have enjoyed for centuries.

Now, Hawaii is poised to become the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage. That's if the alleged Aloha State beats Illinois, where the governor is scheduled to sign its bill Nov. 20, to the punch.

It's been a hell of a special session at the Hawaii Capitol so far, and one can only wonder what will happen next. But however it's played, our state leaders need to remember: Tourism is the single biggest economic driver in this state.

Word travels fast, and gay activists are known to freely boycott to make their voices heard. Remember what happened to Florida orange juice in the late '70s?

But money aside, what about aloha?

Hawaii has a reputation for welcoming everyone with open arms. Do we really want to mess with that?