Last year 33 of the 51 house members of the Hawaiian House of Representatives voted in favour of a bill that would create same-sex civil unions in the state. However, on Friday last week, the House leadership postponed the bill indefinitely after a large campaign by many conservative Christian groups to have the proposed law stopped.
The bill would have granted homosexual partners all the legal benefits of marriage, except the name itself, and would have made Hawaii the sixth state with a similar law. As many of you would know, Civil Unions were successfully made into law in 2004 here in Niu Sila/New Zealand – something I supported back then, and still support now. Six years on, the world hasn’t ended, the sky hasn’t fallen through, and any moral decay already existing in society hasn’t increased since many New Zealanders have taken on Civil Unions. In fact, life has gone on as normal.
I think the Hawaiian legislature, and the conservative Christians who opposed the bill, are wrong.
Firstly, Civil Unions are not marriages, although I wouldn’t have a problem with marriage for same-sex couples either. So on one hand, the ‘institution’ of marriage is protected if same-sex couples can only have Civil Unions. However, on the other hand, why should the State deny same-sex couples the right to be married? Anything less, even by name, seems discriminatory. I know many of our people are quite conservative when it comes to this topic, and would retort that marriage is between a man and a woman, made before God – “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
But such an argument leads me to my second point. The separation of Church and State. The State should not have a preference of religion. Secular States cannot be biased to one religion especially in an increasingly diverse population. Therefore we can’t or shouldn’t use our own personal morals and impose it on everyone else.
And thirdly, as I mentioned above, same-sex couples being married doesn’t hurt anyone, unless you have your own prejudices or bigoted views. If Aunties Tom and Dom from down the road decided to get married/have a Civil Union, how does that change anything for you? Do they suddenly smell really bad? Do they impinge on your right to walk down the road? Do they hurt your eyesight now they are in union of some kind?
At my old job there were a couple of openly gay men. To be honest, I initially was disgusted. They were loud and flamboyant, always wanting to know everybody’s news. But during my time there, they were the most understanding of people, and very loyal friends to not only myself, but everyone else too. I’m not saying every gay person is flamboyant or loyal, but my initial feeling of unease was unfounded and to this day we have good friendships, just like the many other friendships I have made over the years. I realised they are normal people.
Soon after the passing of the law in 2004, the couple had a Civil Union. And guess what? We are still friends. Nothing changed in our friendship, in our interaction, in their attitudes to others.
At the societal level, why must we deny normal the right to be in union of some sort afforded to other normal people? On the theological level, let God be the sole judge on ALL of us for ALL our actions, including how we treat same-sex couples.