Sign Up to Receive Email Action Alerts From Issa Exposed

Tag: Hawaii

New Rhode Island marriage poll, NOM’s ads in Minnesota, and what’s on the ballot this year

by Adam Bink

Equality supporters on the steps of the Rhode Island State Capitol

Providence was one of the more controversial stops on the NOM tour, the scene of some tense confrontations: equality supporters shouting at Brown, two men praying in tongues (our most viewed video from the tour), Brown spinning wildly regarding attendance, etc.

However, a new poll out this morning shows the issue being debated- marriage equality- isn’t too controversial at all. The Rhode Island Marriage Coalition released a new poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner showing that 59% of Rhode Island voters support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples- a 10% increase from the last poll conducted in 2008. When individuals are told it would not impinge on a church’s right to marry who they chose- which is part of the recently enacted law here in DC- support increases to a remarkable 66%.

Some of the poll’s major findings:

  • The new pro-equality majority is demographically diverse. It includes Catholics (57 percent), women over 50 (56 percent), independent voters (58 percent) and parents (64 percent).
  • Support increases further with First Amendment reassurance. When told that marriage equality would not infringe on a church’s right to marry whom they choose, support increases to 66 percent overall and 63 percent among Catholics.
  • Politically, this is a net positive vote for state lawmakers. Asked about the impact of a vote for equality on their support for, 27 percent say they would be more inclined to support a candidate, 24 percent are less inclined, and nearly half (46 percent) say it would make no difference. Just 13 percent are much less likely to support a pro-equality candidate.
  • In Rhode Island, the LGBT community is the mainstream. Overall, 79 percent of voters here know a gay or lesbian person and 45 percent describe their feeling toward gay and lesbian people as favorable, while just 18 percent are critical. Seventy-five percent believe “homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society.”

It’s a big step forward.

On the politics of it, Gov. Carcieri, a horrible anti-LGBT elected official who even vetoed a bill to extend the right to make burial decisions of a loved one to same-sex couples, along with a bill to expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender identity/expression, is thankfully term-limited. Both leading contenders to replace him- State Treasurer Frank Caprio, a Democrat, and former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, an Independent- have said they would sign a bill legalizing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. The Rhode Island State House Speaker, Gordon Fox, is openly gay, and it’s expected equality supporters are very likely to have the votes in the State Legislature.

That brings me to another issue, which is the importance of gubernatorial races this year. A lot of anger poured out after Hawaii Gov. Lingle’s veto of a civil unions bill recently, including calls for a boycott. She is also leaving office, and now-former Rep. and Democratic candidate Neil Abercrombie is the only candidate who has said he will sign the bill and does not want to put the issue to the ballot. In Minnesota, where NOM just launched new radio ads attacking the Democratic and Independent candidates for governor over their support for the freedom to marry and lack of support for a constitutional amendment, we have another pivotal race, as the person who sits in the governor’s chair could be the one to sign or veto a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The same could be true in Rhode Island.

The point is that while it is (thankfully) a year free of anti-equality ballot initiatives like Maine’s Proposition 1 or California’s Proposition 8, this is not a “bye week” for our movement out in the states. There are still key gubernatorial elections that could decide the fate of marriage equality and civil unions in states. We’ll keep a close eye peeled on them, and hope you will too.

208 Comments August 19, 2010

Full Circle

by Brian Leubitz

Way back in 1993, Hawaii started kicking up the first few bits of dust in the same-sex marriage. While I was still in high school, the Supreme Court of the Aloha state ruled that the state should accept same-sex marriages. Before that ruling ever went into effect, however, the state passed an initiative banning same sex marriage. Sound familiar?

Since that time, the state hasn’t really been much of a leader in the fight for full marriage equality. Much of that has to do with the 1993 vote, but years after several other states now have marriage equality that was basically considered some sort of strange joke back then, Hawaii still has no civil unions at all. But that just might change very soon:

In a move that still needs the governor’s signature to become law, the House of Representatives Thursday night approved a measure that has drawn some of the state’s biggest protest rallies.

Republican Gov. Linda Lingle hasn’t said whether she’ll reject it or sign it into law but her office said later that she will carefully review the bill.

The House voted 31-20 in favor of the legislation, which had been stalled but was unexpectedly revived on the last day of this year’s legislative session. The Senate passed it in January.

The measure would grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits that the state provides to married couples. (AP)

Now, Linda Lingle is a Republican governor in an overwhelmingly Democratic state. By overwhelmingly, I really mean it. Of the 25 Senators, 23 are Democrats. Of the 51 Representatives, 45 are Democratic. That so many Democrats voted against a civil unions bill is a bit disappointing, but at least it was able to pass.

But being that Lingle is a Republican in such a deep blue state, she has had to campaign as being a “different kind” of Republican. Whether she’s different enough to sign a civil unions bill is an open question. That being said, a very solid majority of Americans supports civil unions, and that is true in Hawaii.

We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.

36 Comments April 30, 2010

Why the Courts?

by Brian Leubitz

Friday was supposed to be a big day for the LGBT community in the Rainbow state of Hawaii. Yet things didn’t go according to plan:

Lawmakers in the Hawaii House declined to vote Friday on a bill that would have recognized gay and lesbian couples with civil unions, the AP reported. The bill would have granted gay and lesbian couples all the rights and obligations of marriage.

The action effectively shelves the proposal indefinitely. Supporters sitting in the gallery shouted, “Shame on you!” Opponents cheered the decision.(OTM)

The article goes on to note that the legislators didn’t even stand up for a vote, too scared of their own shadows to even get their votes down on record.

Equality shouldn’t be left to a vote of the people, or of the legislature. After all, if that’s the case, deserving couples will have to tolerate second rate status, or no status at all while the people make their merry way of getting to recognize real relationships that exist in the world all around them.

This is the purpose of the courts, to acknowledge what is just despite the majority. It is this countermajoritian power of the courts that the Supreme Court recognized in one of its early cases, Marbury v. Madison. The court laid down what has become one of the backbones of the system of checks and balances between the branches of government, the courts have ultimate authority on what is and what isn’t constitutional, and they have the power to do something about that which isn’t.

In this instance, the courts must do what the people and their elected representatives can or will not do. It is their duty to stop what the framers called in the Federalist Papers, the “the violence of majority faction”. That is, they must uphold the Constitutional rights of the minority when even a large majority opposes those rights. This is the basis for a nation of a system of just laws. More specifically, this is the basis for America, the idea and America the nation.

331 Comments January 31, 2010