comscore Same-sex marriage should be legalized now | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Editorial | Island Voices

Same-sex marriage should be legalized now

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Judging from recent press reports, we seem to be mired in all kinds of maneuvers surrounding marriage equality — vote counting; a push for constitutional amendments to keep marriage confined to heterosexuals; motions to censure Democrats who veer from the party platform on equal rights; more vote counting to see if a special session makes sense; revisiting what this candidate or that said a decade ago — or last year — about traditional marriage, and whether it should matter; playing guessing games about what the governor or the Legislature will or will not do, and when.

Have we lost sight of the fact that this isn’t about process? It’s about real people and families. Marriage equality is all about people being free to live their lives with peace of mind and security. Political wrangling should not keep us from doing the right thing. It’s time right now to make marriage equality a reality in Hawaii.

As a couple with a 32-year committed relationship, who married in Massachusetts in 2009 and who have been raising our daughter who is now 13, our concerns are as basic as that of any other "traditional" family.

It’s really not complicated. We simply want the protections that other couples have, not just under state law but also under federal law. A recent article by Derrick DePledge stated this very clearly: "Same sex and heterosexual couples can enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law, but not federal law." ("Gay marriage likely to wait until 2014," Star-Advertiser, July 24).

The Supreme Court of the United States has spoken. Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and now the federal government welcomes same-sex couples to receive full federal benefits. The Hawaii Legislature already gave approval for our family to receive all the Hawaii state benefits, so why delay having our family receive the federal benefits? We are just delaying the inevitable.

Recent polls show that the people of Hawaii support the rights of same-sex families. A January 2013 poll conducted by Lanai resident Lisa Grove of Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, found that 55 percent of a sampling of registered Hawaii voters favor legalizing same-sex marriage. That percentage jumps nearly 10 points higher among voters 35 years and younger. Even among those over 50, support for marriage equality is around 53 percent.

What the poll and our life experiences in Hawaii tell us is what we already know: In the Aloha State, we do a better job than most at being neighborly. We know better than most how to live and let live. Clearly the community is more ready than it has ever been to accept the fact that same-sex couples should enjoy the full protections of the law, which include the federal benefits and protections all American citizens are supposed to enjoy.

There’s that saying: You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Well, you can’t put LGBT folks back in the closet. They live next to you, work next to you, serve you in restaurants, look after you in hospitals, fight for you in the Army. They are your friends and your family. Our experience as a couple and as parents tells us that most people wish us well and would never personally act to deny us the rights they want for themselves. We believe that our legislators are no different.

We truly believe that passing legislation that allows for marriage equality is the decent, neighborly thing to do. Doing it sooner rather than later will be one more indicator of the generous culture of caring and sharing that makes Hawaii unique. Our Hawaiian culture treasures the family.

Let’s put the focus back on our families and do the right thing. Call a special session now, pass marriage equality and show the nation that in Hawaii, we really live aloha.

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