Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of this blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of my family, church, friends or dogs, for that matter-just plain ‘ole me! There’s enough material out there in the universe for you to read up on regarding both sides of the same-sex marriage issue. If you were hoping for an in-depth theological, legal or social debate here, I’m sorry to disappoint.
Over the last couple of weeks, our peaceful little island community has been rocked by one of the most controversial issues of our time. When Governor Abercrombie pushed for a special session in the state legislature to consider SB 1, a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii, there was no way to foresee the public outcry, uproar and emotional rollercoaster that would ensue in the ‘Aloha’ state. I could review the chronology of events-the bill’s introduction, the key players, the committee hearings, the floor votes, the rallies, the sign-waving, the press conferences. I could regurgitate some of the speeches given during the record-breaking 57 hours of live testimony (the inspiring, the ignorant and the incredulous). I could talk about the articles written, the commercials aired, the accusations made and the threats uttered. I could commend the enormous show of civic participation, the political dialogue generated and the interest peaked in everyday citizens of all ages and backgrounds to obtain knowledge about the legislative process and the workings of their government. I could go on (and on) about the deluge of Facebook posts, comments, threads, links, videos, pictures and overnight scholars that emerged on this subject matter.
I could describe the sights and sounds of the last two weeks. The rainbow lei worn by SB 1 supporters and the dark blue shirts worn by those in opposition. The signs held by kupuna and children, men and women from all walks of life, stating their bearer’s position: “Save Traditional Marriage”, “Let the People Choose”, “I Support Marriage Equality”, “Love not Hate”. The Hawaiian flag, the rainbow flag floating gently in the Hawaiian breeze. The pleas, the prayers, the proposals. And always, always in the background, the raised voices of the masses chanting at the State Capitol for hours on end, “Let the People Vote”, “Let the People Vote”!!!
After all is said and done and the silence of relief or resignation ensues, the images and sounds of this moment in history will not so easily be erased.
I could mention the rift that seems to have divided our community in two. Today, officials literally divided the sign-wavers and capitol audience in two, so as to be fair in representation and safe in temporary segregation. There have been relationships between family members and friends that have been damaged and it has felt particularly 'icky' around here lately. I fear that these memories will live collectively within the people of Hawaii for many years to come and I pray for healing, understanding and compassion.
I confess: I’ve avoided the rallies, refused to watch most of the live testimony and steered clear of uncomfortable conversations in general (although I confess to camping on FB) because I’ve found much of the dialogue to be divisive, hurtful, unyielding in position and sometimes just ridiculous. I was there many years ago when this was before the legislature and was so disappointed in the behavior of many back then that I vowed I wouldn’t go be in the front row as a witness, again. Unfortunately, this time, it was much worse than I could have imagined.
I’ve been appalled at the vitriol that has been spewed forth in the name of the God and Savior that I worship and at the same time, I haven’t appreciated being categorized or written off as ‘sheep’ just because I choose to believe in them. I’ve witnessed the Native Hawaiian community grow farther apart and just as I support traditional practices and beliefs, I want to be respected as a Hawaiian with my own set of values and beliefs handed down to me from my kupuna.
For me, and I’m sure this can be said of many others, it has been an emotional and often confusing time. Ever the analytic and true to my Libra tendencies, I’ve considered both sides of the coin. I’ve heard the arguments, studied the issues, and discussed the matter with select family and close friends. I’ve considered the legal, cultural, societal and spiritual ramifications of same-sex marriage. Above all, I have relied on my foundation, my faith, and tried to check in constantly with my own spirit, or na’au ,to guide me.
I cannot and will not try to convince others to my point of view. I am, however, open to respectful discussion. What I can do is share the conclusions and commitments that I have personally reached as a result of this journey thus far. I watched a great video today that talks about everyone having their own ‘closets to come out of’, so if this qualifies as one, here I go:
· I claim the privilege of worshipping God and Jesus Christ, and I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. My beliefs are sacred to me and an integral part of who I am and how I live my life.
· I honor the fact that other people do NOT share my beliefs and that they have their own values, beliefs and creeds that they live by that are sacred to them and they have a right to live their own truth.
· I understand the difference between God’s laws and man’s laws.
· I fully support each person’s right to participate in government processes (that includes testifying, telling their legislators off, holding signs, watching hours on end of live testimony on Channel 54 and responding to any and all Facebook posts relating to same-sex marriage).
· I do NOT condone hate speech, violence, threats and outright ignorance (or those who are unwilling to even consider that there may be other viable positions that are contrary to their own).
· I support the protection of religious freedom and religious exemptions that are available under the law, broad enough and clear enough for everyone to understand.
· I support equality for all people.
As parents, this is what my husband and I have committed to do:
· We will raise our son in our religion and try to live our values and beliefs the best we know how, knowing that he has free agency and will believe and live as he sees fit as an adult (yes, when he leaves my house, lol).
· We have spoken with our son about tolerance, acceptance and compassion and the value of learning from those who do not share our beliefs or viewpoints.
· We have been very clear with our son about bullying and what is NOT acceptable language anywhere (like “that’s so gay” and “faggot”).
· We have had age-appropriate discussions with our son regarding homosexuality, stereotypes surrounding the LGBT community, SB 1 and same-sex marriage, in general.
· We will raise our son to embrace people from all walks of life. That includes hanging out with gay friends and family members and yes, attending their fabulous weddings, should they be kind enough to invite us.
· We will do our very best to lead by example and to teach our son to not be afraid of what he doesn’t know, to seek to understand and to LOVE and RESPECT others. . .
I don’t know if I’ll be accepted as someone who can simply see and accept both sides of this issue. I'll be the first to admit that there's so much I don't know or understand and there are things I am sure about. If I went to the Capitol today, I wouldn’t know which side of the ‘line’ to stand on. You probably wouldn’t find me wearing a rainbow lei, per se, or even chanting, “Let the People Vote”. You’d be more likely to find me here and there, talking story, giving hugs, handing out cookies, holding up a homemade sign that reads, “Aloha Kekahi I Kekahi-Love One Another”, while supporting religious freedom AND the right to love and be treated equally. So for now, a place in the middle will just have to do.