Redefining Marriage Won’t Work

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - February 18, 2009
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Hawaii’s House District 33 includes the working-class neighborhoods of Halawa Heights, Aiea, Aiea Heights, Pearl Ridge and Waimalu - demographically heavily Asian, Democrat and older. Forty percent of the voters are over 50.

In 2004, I ran against the incumbent state representative, Democrat Blake Oshiro, because I didn’t feel he represented my values or those of the other voters in the district, whom during my 25-year residence and especially during the campaign I found to be more conservative than demographics might suggest. Nevertheless, even then, as Oshiro had proclaimed himself the most liberal member of the House, he beat me by a narrow margin. Now I am reminded of why I made that effort, and regret all the more that I wasn’t successful.

Possibly emboldened by the election of Barack Obama, who was the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate and who has promised to revisit the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Oshiro is apparently shedding all pretense of “representation” of my values or those of his constituency in general.

Ostensibly in response to his “constituents’ requests” (that would be me and my neighbors), he has kicked off this new legislative session by sponsoring House Bill (HB) 444 on “Civil Unions ... extends same rights, benefits and responsibilities of spouses in marriage to partners in a Civil Union,” and HB 878 “Relating to Marriage ... repeals language (from all official state documents) that defines or refers to marriage as being limited to a relationship between a man and a woman, and instead specifies that the relationship is between two people.

Concerning the redefinition of marriage as simply “between two people,” Oshiro and his cosponsors must have very short memories. In 1998, more than 72 percent of Hawaii’s voters passed a constitutional amendment stating that in Hawaii marriage shall be between one man and one woman.

True, over the past 10 years, Hollywood and the media have supported the effort to mainstream homosexuality with prime-time TV shows such as Will and Grace and Grey’s Anatomy and films like Brokeback Mountain, Philadelphia and most recently Milk - all portraying homosexuality in very sympathetic terms. But even with all that, it’s unlikely that of the 72 percent of Hawaii voters, many would have changed their mind on the definition of marriage. In fact, according to the online newsletter GLT (Gay and Lesbian Times), during the last election four states rejected same-sex marriage. Even in liberal California, voters overturned the state Supreme Court’s approval of same sex marriage by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin. And even though my personal life journey has brought me into more understanding with my homosexual acquaintances, I am unlikely to ever concede the basic value of man-woman marriage.

It is also noteworthy that in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is now legal, a federal judge has specified that homosexual issues must be taught in school with no “opt out” right for parents.

Heterosexual marriage has been the most basic foundation of civilized society since time began. It is simply consistent with the “nature of things” - the propagation of the species, the discreet socialization of our sons and daughters, the basic social and economic unit by which our society is organized. Although not without flaws, I believe it provides the best context for rich and fulfilling lives for men, women and children alike.

Although we may have friends or family among the 3 percent of Americans who are homosexual and whom we love and respect, we must fight hard to derail this latest minority assault upon our majority traditional values.

For good and enduring reasons, we have already specified that in Hawaii a marriage is between a man and a woman. But unless we reaffirm that value to our legislators right now, Oshiro and his activist supporters will impose their values upon us.

The secondary lesson here? At election time and during their term, pay attention to the values that your representative is championing, and if they don’t coincide with yours, vote them out!

You might be appalled to read in the GLT what other issues are on the national homosexual agenda for action by the new president during his first 100 days. You can check it out at ?id=13982.

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