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Opinion: Preview of the upcoming special session

    By Mark Brians. October 27, 2013 - 11:39 am


Beginning Monday, Oct. 28, the Hawai’i State Legislature will be holding a special five-day session to consider legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Hawai‘i. 

Authored by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and his staff, the proposed legislation references the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck-down the Defense of Marriage Act.

A Special Session is a rare event, typically used only in extreme circumstances. But the Governor, leading Democrats in the state, and proponents of same-sex marriage believe that now, with Obamacare coming into effect, and a new election cycle around the corner, the marriage issue is an urgent one.

It is estimated to cost the State a minimum of $28,500. But this is an expense the Governor is willing to pay.

Indeed, much of the criticism that the Governor has received over this action has to do with the cost of the event. Over and above the cost, however, the strongest criticisms come from legislators who feel left out of the process.

“[The Governor] didn’t seek guidance from legislators. It was a unilateral action,” said Sen. Sam Slom in a recent interview with Kalamalama.

On top of this “they keep canceling events,” leaving the public out of the process.


In an attempt to include the public, an informational briefing was held on Wednesday Oct. 23 at the Capitol. The Senate is planned to take the lead in passing the bill, and so a public hearing of the Senate Judiciary committee could happen as early as Monday Oct. 30.

If approved, voted on and passed quickly enough, the bill could pass over to the house the following day.

There is a great concern that public voices will be ignored during the session as leaders in the House and the Senate seemed resigned to imminence of the bill’s passing into law.

Some opponents of the measure want a state referendum so the public can vote on the issue.

The Governor too, expressed confidence that the decision has already been made. In a recent news conference he stated that “[every] view with regard to the issue of marriage… has been aired, has been analyzed, has been discussed.”

No more voices to be heard, no more discussion to be had. Whether certain voices were left out or not, they are moving forward.

Meanwhile opponents of same-sex marriage make equally hidebound, narrow statements.

Sen. Sam Slom said, “In my opinion, this is a waste of time and money for an issue that requires no urgency or special treatment.”

Au contraire Senator, marriage laws are of the utmost importance in society.

Or if they aren’t, why would the prospect of changing them pose such a dilemma?

Such articulations by Slom and Abercrombie are proof of just how fundamentalism and progressivism frustrate good political discourse. Fundamentalism and it’s opponent progressivism operate by reducing massive cultural issues into tiny matters of dogma.

Ultimately, it appears that both sides have overlooked that marriage frames society by shaping how people interact and communicate in a framework of social relations.

More importantly it defines what it means to be human by its methods of how children are made (i.e. procreation vs. gestational surrogacy).

The State Capitol is just around the block. As students, thinkers, artists, and professionals it is our business to work with our leaders to shape the world in which we live.


Photos: Teakre Vest

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