Civil Union Hangup And Debates

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - May 12, 2010
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A “civil union” of people who want a contractual partnership would seem to be perfect for our age when so many people live together with no state license.

“Marriage” could be an optional ceremony in a religious or secular setting, not a licensed event.

Pretty simple. So why all the fuss about civil unions versus the 12th century innovation of coupling done in a church by a priest and called marriage?

“I believe in the sanctity of marriage,” says mayor and soon gubernatorial candidate Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

“Civil unions respect our diversity, protect people’s privacy and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha,” says candidate for governor Neil Abercrombie.

“If the Legislature wanted to establish the equivalent of same-sex marriage, they should have put it on the ballot for the people to decide,” says gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona.

What seems to make the most sense is to allow people, regardless of gender, to show up at some recording office or notary and sign a notice of a contractual bond, or civil union. And the rest of us recognize that. If they also want a ceremonial “marriage,” fine. But it’s not required.

So the fuss seems to be over some fear that unless society controls who couples and under what ceremony, we’re doomed to extinction.

The fears probably had some basis once upon a time. Royal marriages assured the political bonding of societies. Men wanted exclusive sex with a woman and something to mark the paternity of their children.

Today, kinship’s no issue, adultery is rampant and children born outside wedlock or to unknown fathers are unremarkable. There are legal issues of ending the bond, inheritance and child custody, but all that can be nicely handled by recorded civil unions rather than our current state-licensed marriages.

Saying who can form a union is senseless on its face. It’s a contract like any other and the only rules should be 1) is it voluntary, 2) are the persons of age. Can same-gender people make a contract? Of course.

So what’s the fuss? It’s the sex hangup. It’s a biblical thing. Hannemann is Mormon. Aiona is Catholic. Both religions oppose anything hinting of same-gender joinings.

Events are moving against them. Denmark has had same-sex civil unions for more than 20 years. Quebec, New Zealand and even Uruguay and Ecuador have them, as well as Vermont, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and the District of Columbia.

If 82-percent-Catholic-to-the-core Spain can live with full-rights same-sex marriage, how can our more secular Hawaii society be that far behind?

This could and probably should be a front-and-center issue in the coming gubernatorial campaign.

three star

I understand the rationale for TV stations excluding political candidates without big campaign organizations, big money and big poll numbers from their live debates. I defended that myself as a news director.

But I’m troubled. Last week, a TV debate excluded the only Native Hawaiian candidate for Congress.

Yes, some are cuckoos and others have no chance. But I’d like to have heard from Rafael Del Castillo, Jim Brewer and Kalaeloa Strode. Certainly no cuckoos there.

That’s why I’ve supported the FCC requiring free TV and radio time for all candidates.

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