Showing posts with label Hawaii. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hawaii. Show all posts

November 26, 2013

19 Hawaii’s Law Makers Got Coal for Voting NO on Gay Marriage








Perhaps it was an early Christmas gift or a mean message, but all 19 House lawmakers who voted no on same sex marriage got an unusual delivery in the mail Thursday. We know because we got a box too with a note saying they sent it to the lawmakers. The package got mixed reactions at the capitol.
The black box has green tissue paper and a red pouch with a hard black substance. At first it was thought to be a lava rock and the person was sending bad luck as the superstition goes. But upon further review it looks like a lump of coal.
The typed message on the card says, "You left a piece of your heart at the State Building when you voted on SB-1..... Your lifestyle choice of judging others and ignorance is very unfortunate. Good luck in the next election."
"Yeah I think the message is that I have not been a good boy this year, I have been naughty, not nice. Well I'm afraid some people feel that way about me right now," said Rep. Marcus Oshiro, (D) representing Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, and voted against same sex marriage.
The whole coal in your stocking theme was lost on Rep. Richard Fale who says he grew up poor in Tonga.
"We got lickins when we weren't doing what we were supposed to be doing. I guess kids on the mainland that's actually a better thing. I would rather get a piece of coal in my stockings then lickins," said Rep. Richard Fale, (R) representing Oahu's North Shore, and voted against same sex marriage.
Some of the 19 lawmakers returned it to the House Sgt. At Arms for them to dispose of.
"It's not the right way to go and unfortunately it happens more often then not," said Kevin Kuroda, House Sergeant at Arms, referring to negative mail sent to lawmakers.
The Hilo Medical Center also got lumped in on it. The sender put the hospital's return address on the box.
"Hilo Medical Center categorically denies any involvement in this matter and does not condone this type of behavior," said Howard Ainsley, East Hawaii Regional CEO of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. "Over the years, we have enjoyed a positive relationship with members of the legislature. It is extremely unfortunate that our good hospital was brought into a such bad act. We want to assure our legislators that we will fully cooperate with the investigative process to bring the perpetrators of these acts to justice."
There was a tracking number that shows the boxes were sent from Hilo on Tuesday at 12:19 in the afternoon. The person actually went to the counter to mail it. But since it's not illegal to send a lawmaker coal, authorities won't go to the expense of looking at surveillance to see who it was.
"I feel sad for this person. That's what it tells me. This individual I hope gets some kind of help or assistance. There is something missing in their life," said Rep. Fale.
Lawmakers didn't take it as a threat. Rep. Oshiro answered sarcasm with sarcasm.
"It is very unusual. It made its point and for me its a keepsake that I will hold onto for a long time," said Rep. Oshiro. "I just want to thank the person who sent it to me anonymously, Merry Christmas, mele kalikimaka, hauoli makahiki hou."
The boxes were not sent to the four State Senators who voted no or at least they haven’t arrived yet if they were.
HawaiiNewsNow

November 14, 2013

Hawaii’s Governor Signs Gay Marriage into Law!

Proponents of gay marriage rally outside state House chambers at the Hawaii Capitol in Honolulu on Nov. 8.

  •  Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed legislation Wednesday making Hawaii the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
  • Abercrombie, who called a special session in August to address the issue, moved quickly after the state Senate passed the bill, 19-4, Tuesday. The House approved it by a 30-19 vote Friday. Gay and lesbian couples in Hawaii will be eligible for marriage licenses starting Dec. 2.
  • President Obama praised the state he grew up in Tuesday night following the legislature's action.
  • "I've always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today's vote makes me even prouder," Obama said in a statement.
  • The state the president currently calls home, Illinois, is poised to soon join Hawaii. The state legislature approved legislation legalizing same-sex marriage last week, and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is scheduled to sign it into law Nov. 20.
  • Year In Review
  • The past two weeks represent the culmination of a landmark year for the gay rights movement in which public support has continued to grow and five other states legalized same-sex marriage.
  • Two historic rulings issued by the Supreme Court in late June paved the way for same-sex couples to marry in California and New Jersey. The court struck down Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California, and the Defense of Marriage Act, providing the legal reasoning for a New Jersey judge to overturn the state's system of civil unions.
  • In addition, state legislatures in Delaware, Minnesota and Rhode Island passed legislation allowing same-sex marriages in 2013.
  • This all came after voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state approved the legalization of gay marriage at the ballot box in November 2012.
  • Once Hawaii and Illinois officially enter the fray, same-sex couples will be able to wed in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Looking Ahead
  • Gay rights activists hope to build on their recent momentum and make additional progress in the 33 states that limit marriage to one man and one woman — 29 of which do so through constitutional amendments.
  • In New Mexico — the only state that does not have a law explicitly allowing or prohibiting same-sex marriage — the state Supreme Court is expected to decide by the end of the year if gay couples have the right to marry after hearing oral arguments in October.
  • The battle over gay marriage also appears likely to come to Oregon. Organizers are in the process of collecting signatures to put a measure on the ballot in 2014 to overturn the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.
  • The Human Rights Campaign has identified five other states as potential targets for efforts to put same-sex marriage on the 2016 ballot: Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio.
  • Nevada is a more complicated proposition than the other four states: a measure amending the constitution to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage may not go on the ballot until the state legislature approves it twice in consecutive biennial sessions.
  • Gay marriage opponents are gearing up to fight back. There's a push to take Indiana's prohibition on gay marriage one step further by placing it in the state constitution. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the proposal early next year; if it passes, voters would have the final say on Election Day in 2014.
  • And if the New Mexico Supreme Court decides to sanction same-sex marriages — a ruling is expected soon — Republican lawmakers may seek to ban them through a constitutional referendum.
  • by ADAM WOLLNER

November 13, 2013

Hawaii’s Passes Gay Marriage One Signature Away(Gov.)

Final reading of same-sex marriage bill in the State Senate. Photo courtesy Mileka Lincoln.
Final reading of same-sex marriage bill in the State Senate. Photo courtesy Mileka Lincoln.




The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday legalizing gay marriage, putting Hawaii a signature away from becoming a same-sex wedding destination.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who called lawmakers to a special session for the bill and has vocally supported gay marriage, has said he would sign the measure. It will allow thousands of gay couples living in Hawaii and even more tourists to marry in the state starting Dec. 2.
Senators passed the bill 19-4 with two lawmakers excused. Cheers erupted inside and outside the gallery when the vote was taken, with a smattering of boos. Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, who voted against the bill, banged her gavel and told members of the public to quiet down.
More than half the chamber's lawmakers spoke in support of the bill, with many urging the public to come together to heal divisions within the community.
"This is nothing more than the expansion of aloha in Hawaii," said Sen. J. Kalani English, a Democrat from Maui.
An estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says the law will boost tourism by $217 million over the next three years, as Hawaii becomes an outlet for couples in other states, bringing ceremonies, receptions and honeymoons to the islands. The study's author has said Hawaii would benefit from pent-up demand for gay weddings, with couples spending $166 million over those three years on ceremonies and honeymoons.
The Senate took up the bill a second time because of changes made in the House, where the bill was amended and eventually passed.
Abercrombie last week urged the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature to pass the bill in its current form. Hawaii Attorney General David Louie said the measure is constitutional and legally sound.
The House amendments delayed the dates ceremonies could begin, slightly expanded an exemption for clergy and religious organizations, and removed regulations determining how children of same-sex couples could qualify for Native Hawaiian benefits.
The measure is the culmination of more than two decades of debate in the state, where two women in 1990 famously applied for a marriage license, touching off a court battle and eventual national discussion on gay marriage.
The case led to Congress passing the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, part of which was struck down earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision that legally married same-sex couples could qualify for federal benefits led Abercrombie to call the special session in Hawaii.
The Senate vote puts Hawaii alongside Illinois, where a bill legalizing gay marriage is also awaiting the governor's signature. Another 14 states and the District of Columbia already allow same-sex marriage.

November 10, 2013

Gay Marriage in Hawaii is Almost At Hand

Same sex marriage supporters Lance Namihara (L), Calvin Marquez (C) and Aleeciya Parker rally at the Hawaii State Capital as the State Legislature convenes for the third and final vote on allowing same sex marriage to be legal in the state of Hawaii in Honolulu, November 8, 2013. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry
Same sex marriage supporters Lance Namihara (L), Calvin Marquez (C) and Aleeciya Parker rally at the Hawaii State Capital as the State Legislature convenes for the third and final vote on allowing same sex marriage to be legal in the state of Hawaii in Honolulu, November 8, 2013.
CREDIT: REUTERS/HUGH GENTRY






Hawaii's House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday to legalize same-sex marriage in the overwhelmingly Democratic state popular as a wedding and honeymoon destination, paving the way for anticipated final passage in the Senate next week.
The measure cleared the House in a late-night vote of 30-19, with six of the chamber's seven Republicans joining 13 Democrats in opposing the legislation. Two Democrats were absent for the vote.
Governor Neil Abercrombie has indicated he would swiftly sign the measure into law, making Hawaii the 15th or 16th U.S. state to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples, depending on when the governor of Illinois signs that state's bill.
As currently drafted, the Hawaii bill would take effect on December 2.
"This is about a move toward acceptance, tolerance and compassion," Representative Sylvia Luke, chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, said as the House floor debate began hours before the vote.
The vote in Hawaii comes at a time of increasing momentum for gay marriage in the courts, at the ballot box and statehouses across the country.
Hawaii's Supreme Court ruled two decades ago that banning same-sex marriage was discriminatory, helping to advance gay rights nationwide but also sparking a backlash that kept the legislature passing a bill on the issue.
With public opinion shifting, Abercrombie, a first-term Democrat, called the state legislature into special session late last month to consider a bill that rolls back a 1994 statute defining marriage as between a man and a woman only.
The Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure last Wednesday, with a 20-4 vote. Three Democrats joined the state's only Republican senator in voting against the bill.
Because the measure was amended in the House, it must return to the Senate for final adoption. The Senate is precluded by legislative rules from acting before next Tuesday, aides say.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Clayton Hee was quoted in the Honolulu Star Advertiser as saying he expected the Senate would accept the House version quickly.
GAY RIGHTS VS. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Abercrombie, who served more than two decades in the U.S. House of Representatives before running for governor in 2010, signed a same-sex civil unions bill into law two years ago. His predecessor, Republican Linda Lingle, vetoed a civil unions bill in 2010.
The governor has said the proposal was crafted to address opponents' concerns that legalizing gay marriage would infringe on religious freedoms. The proposal exempts clergy and churches from having to perform same-sex marriages.
Only six states and the District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriage a year ago, but the number has since more than doubled, due in most cases to litigation over the issue.
Three states - Maine, Maryland and Washington - became the first to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples by popular vote with passage of ballot initiatives last November.
Last month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie dropped his legal opposition to gay marriage, making his state the 14th to legalize same-sex weddings.
Illinois, whose legislature gave final approval to a same-sex marriage bill on Tuesday, would become the 15th state, unless Abercrombie manages to beat Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to the punch.
(Reuters) - 

(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Louise Ireland and Sonya Hepinstall)

November 7, 2013

Honolulu-Gay Police Officer Critical of Union Pres. For Testifying Against Gay Marriage



HONOLULU -
Holding his bible, SHOPO President Tenari Ma'afala testifies against SB1, the same-sex marriage bill.  He told lawmakers this bill will turn him, a law abiding citizen, into a law breaker.


 While many in the crowd threw up shakas in support, members of the gay community listened in shock.   Including another Honolulu Police Officer, Corporal John Zeuzheim. 
Cpl. Zeuzheim, admits that Ma'afala did not make any negative comments about LGBT people but is critical that Ma'afala mentioned his role as SHOPO President.
"He is more well-known than our chief," says Zeuzheim who believes that Ma'afala's testimony sent the wrong message.  "This just acknowledges all their fears that the police department does not respect them."
Zeuzheim -- a 13-year veteran with HPD-- spoke with Hawaii News Now while watching testimony Tuesday.  He says he knows he could be fired, or reprimanded for speaking to the media, but says he didn't have a choice.
"I want the gay and lesbian community to know that there's somebody willing to step up," he says.  "They need to know there's people equally as passionate to protect them and serve them as there are people who are not."
Ma'afala was number 5038 to testify, but it was one of the most memorable as lawmakers called him back minutes later for a Q & A session. 
"The day I retire and bills like this are introduced, I will never, ever, honor such law, you would have to kill me to disrespect my father in Heaven," he said.
Zeuzheim said he would not have had a problem with Ma'afala's testimony if he claimed to be a citizen, father and husband, and left out his position with the union.
"He spoke on behalf of police officers," he says.
The department issued the following statement on the internal strife:
The Honolulu Police Department does not have a position on same sex marriage, nor does the department consider this a law enforcement issue.
Like other citizens, HPD employees are free to express their personal opinions as private individuals.
When it comes to serving the public, officers are sworn to protect and serve every member of the public and to treat everyone with respect and fairness. Officers who do not adhere to this standard are subject to investigation.
(HawaiiNewsNow) 

In Hawaii Anti Gay Marriage Protests Trying to Disrupt Debate



  Tensions escalate and tempers flare in confrontation between same-sex marriage opponents and supporters at the Capitol.
Hundreds of people are waiting in the Rotunda for a chance to get into the House chamber to view lawmakers take up the second reading and vote on an amended version of #SB1, the "Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013".
Emotions quickly escalated as dozens chanting "Let the people vote" moved their protest from just outside the House Chamber to the Capitol steps, where a previously scheduled press conference for local faith leaders who stand in support of same-sex marriage was being held. Public Safety officers quickly stepped in to monitor the situation, but did not take any action.
The sheer volume of the protests outside have disrupted the House proceedings, causing lawmakers to raise their voices as audience members strain to follow along with what they're saying. Live updates on Twitter:https://twitter.com/MilekaLincoln
[Original story posted below]
The Hawaii House of Representatives gaveled into session a little after 10 a.m. Wednesday for the second reading and vote on an amended version of SB 1, the "Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013", which advanced out of the Judiciary & Finance committees 18-12 Tuesday night.  
After an invocation and brief introductions, lawmakers immediately recessed. Vice Speaker John Mizuno indicated Representatives would reconvene at 11 a.m., but nearly an hour has come and gone since then with no indication of when legislators will return to the floor.  Republican Minority caucus member, Representative Bob McDermott, who is a staunch opponent of SB 1, says the delay is a result of in-fighting between Democratic Majority caucus members.  McDermott says a few Representatives reportedly want a roll-call vote on the floor for a proposal to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to let the people vote on same-sex marriage, but not everyone agrees. 
Hundreds of people are awaiting entry to the House gallery, in a line that wraps around the Capitol Rotunda. As with the public testimony hearings over the past few days, security is in place for a wand and bag check. Once the gallery filled up, dozens who have been left to wait outside made their way to the chamber windows chanting "Let the people vote!" Public Safety officials confirm they've stepped up their security in the Rotunda and are "closely monitoring the situation", but no incidents have been reported.

November 2, 2013

Pres.Obama Urges Hawaii to Allow Gay Marriage

Barack_Obama
President Barack Obama's support of gay marriage has been public since last year when he confirmed it in a television interview.
Now, through a White House spokesperson, Obama is speaking out in favor of marriage equality in his home state of Hawaii.
President Barack Obama is advocating for marriage equality in Hawaii.
'While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect, the White House's Shin Inouye tells the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Inouye adds: 'His personal view is that it's wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so.'
The Hawaii state legislature is currently in a special session to consider legalizing gay marriage. The Senate approved the Marriage Equality Act on Wednesday (30 October).
The bill is now in the House where a close floor vote is expected. More than 5,000 members of the public have signed up to speak with testimony beginning Thursday and continuing Friday (1 November).
Governor Neil Abercrombie has vowed to sign the bill into law if it is passed and make Hawaii the 15th state in the US with marriage equality.
Same-sex wedding could then begin taking place in the island state as early as 18 November.
 BY GREG HERNANDEZ
http://www.gaystarnews.com/

October 28, 2013

Hawaii Could be the 15th State to Allow Same Sex Marriage

King Kamehameha MM



Hawaii could become the 15th state to extend marriage rights to gay couples when state lawmakers meet this week for a special session.
Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, has called the session to start on Monday to debate a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage.
"I think Hawaii has always celebrated its sense of Aloha for one another," Abercrombie said in a telephone interview. "This is a question of equity."
In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled it was discriminatory to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples.
But rather than pave the way for a gay marriage law, the ruling prompted a conservative backlash. In 1998, Hawaiian voters approved a constitutional amendment that limited the right to marry to heterosexual couples.
The tide has begun to turn under Abercrombie, who was elected in 2010. He signed a same-sex civil unions bill into law in 2011, and has been a vocal proponent of gay marriage since then.
"To win now through the political process in Hawaii would show just how far public opinion in our nation has evolved, and how quickly," said Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal, which promotes gay civil rights. "It would demonstrate that ... allowing same-sex couples the same right to marry that different-sex couples cherish only provides greater joy and security to more families, and harms no one."
Just one year ago, only six states and the District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriage.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a landmark victory for gay rights by forcing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in states where it is legal and paving the way for gay marriage in California.
But the court did not endorse a fundamental right for gay people to marry, leaving the issue to the states, at least for now. Same-sex couples and gay rights organizations now have 36 lawsuits pending in 20 states, according to Davidson.
Last week, same-sex weddings started in New Jersey , and the high court in New Mexico heard arguments on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
Lawmakers in Illinois are also considering the issue.
"This is an issue where we've hit a tipping point," said James Esseks, who oversees gay rights advocacy for the American Civil Liberties Union. "The momentum we have is striking."

The debate over same-sex matrimony has long divided the "Aloha State," and the special session will be greeted by rival demonstrations. On Sunday, proponents plan an "All You Need is Love" rally in Honolulu and opponents will follow with a "Let the People Decide" gathering on Monday.
In recent days, opponents of the bill have gathered on the sides of volcanic mountain highways and dense urban streets with signs saying "Let the People Vote on Marriage."
"They're starting House hearings on Halloween, when many of those opposed will be busy with their families, so we're telling people to bring their kids trick-or-treating at the state capitol," said Jim Hochberg, president of Hawaii Family Advocates, the leading group opposing the governor's bill.
Donald Bentz, head of the gay rights group Equality Hawaii, said he was hopeful the bill would pass and said it was bad policy to allow voters - rather than lawmakers or the courts - to decide civil rights questions.
"Whenever you leave the rights of a minority up to the majority, that's a bad day," he said.
He rejected the idea the issue required further debate.
"Hawaii has been discussing this issue for 20 years now," Bentz said. "These couples have been waiting 20 years."


 Reuters

September 10, 2013

Hawaii’s Governor Calls in The Legislature to Vote on a Gay Marriage Bill



Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday called for a special legislative session to move forward on a bill that would legalize gay marriage.
If lawmakers pass a bill, Hawaii would join 13 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay marriage. The special session is scheduled to begin Oct. 28.
The bill is the culmination of 20 years of discussion, Abercrombie told reporters during a news conference at the Hawaii Capitol.
"Every variation on a view with regard to the issue of marriage and equitable treatment for those engaged in marriage has been aired, has been analyzed, has been discussed," Abercrombie said. "No one has been left out or has been marginalized in the process to this point."
Abercrombie acknowledged that some people will be against the bill because they disagree with the concept of gay marriage, but he said it includes provisions — including a religious exemption — to protect First Amendment rights.
Abercrombie said he chose to call a special session rather than allow legislators to consider the issue next year in part because of implications on taxes for this year.
"There are serious, deep and wide-ranging consequences," Abercrombie said.
Abercrombie said if legislators move quickly and efficiently, the special session could last four to five days.
Hawaii is already among a handful of states that allow same-sex civil unions, which gay marriage advocates say stop short of the full benefits of marriage.
Proponents of gay marriage in the state renewed their efforts after seeing two U.S. Supreme Court rulings come down in line with their views in June. One ruling granted federal benefits to same-sex couples married in states where gay marriage is legal.
Abercrombie has been considering a special session since the rulings. He met privately last week with Democratic lawmakers in the House about the issue.
Hawaii's legislative chambers are both overwhelmingly composed of Democrats. Only one senator among 25 is Republican, while Democrats outnumber Republicans in the House 44-7.
If a bill is passed in time, Hawaii could begin issuing licenses and conducting ceremonies Nov. 18, Attorney General David Louis said.
Support for the bill is tight in the House, Speaker Joseph Souki said last week after meeting with Abercrombie and other lawmakers in a Democratic caucus.
Abercrombie said he won't be certain until the votes come, but he believes the bill has enough support to pass. He said it likely would not pass without the religious exemption.
"We're trying to keep from imposing one set of views on each other that would end up with conflict and confrontation," he said. "We think that this bill achieves that delicate balance."
———
Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .

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