Marriage Equality – Pride Parades and Legacy Votes

The Stonewall riots (also referred to as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion) were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ community against a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States. Today, LGBTQ Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riots. — Wikipedia

This past Saturday, Kauai hosted its first Pride Parade. It was a beautiful event and a fabulous success. Kudos to the organizers and all who came out in support.

Kauai and the world has come a long way since those dark days of 1969 and before. And yes, we still have a long way still to go and the fight for equality and the end of bigotry and discrimination at all levels is never-ending.

In the world of policy and politics there are only a few times in one’s career when a vote has truly historical consequences. The vast majority of votes are about money and not about people. Yes, the money for schools, highways, airports and harbors – impact people. But the votes that truly impact the entire population, the kind of votes that change peoples lives – are rare.

I served in the Hawaii State Senate from 2002 through 2010. In 2009, as the then Senate Majority Leader, I fought hard in support of HB444 which would have legalized Civil Unions as an alternative to marriage. At the time conservative voices in the community viewed the effort as a surreptitious way to legalize same gender marriage, and the battle for its passage turned into one of the biggest public policy fights of my political career. I remember some residents on Kauai purchasing newspaper advertisements saying “Tell Hooser to vote no!” The capitol rotunda and the hearing rooms were constantly packed with red shirts and white shirts pressing all legislators hard in support or against.

The nearly two year process that it took to ultimately pass HB444 was intense, emotionally draining but also immensely gratifying. To this day I look back upon my work on this effort with great personal satisfaction and an experience that has shaped my life. Fighting the good fight, working so very hard on an issue that truly means something, and then voting my conscience in support of the equality of love – I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

On July 6, 2010, in a room packed with advocates, the measure was veto’ed by then Governor Linda Lingle. It was a heartbreaking moment for many, many people. But while we lost the battle for HB444, in the end 3 years later we won the war.

On Nov. 14, 2013, with then Governor Neil Abercrombie leading the way, a special session of the legislature was convened and the Marriage Equality Act was shepherded into law.

After attending the Pride Parade on Kauai this past Saturday, I decided to review the legislative history of what started out as a draft bill labeled SD1, and ended up as SD1_HD1 and then Act 001 – which is now the law of the land in Hawaii.

While not unanimous, the measure easily sailed through the Senate unamended. In the House a majority of the Republican minority joined with conservative Democrats and formed a coalition of 19 members intent on killing the measure. This group made 29 separate attempts to amend and kill the measure, before it finally passed in the House.

The final votes count as reflected in the official status report and legislative record:

Nov. 8, 2013 — House

Passed Third Reading with roll call vote; 19 voting no Aquino, Awana, Cachola, Carroll, Cullen, Fale, Fukumoto, Har, Ito, Johanson, Jordan, Matsumoto, McDermott, Oshiro, Tokioka, Tsuji, Ward, Woodson, Yamane and 2 excused Cabanilla, Choy. Transmitted to Senate.

Nov. 12, 2013 — Senate

Passed Final Reading. 19 Aye(s); Aye(s) with reservations: none . 4 No(es): Senator(s) Gabbard, Kim, Kouchi, Slom. 2 Excused: Senator(s) Dela Cruz, Taniguchi.

The four Kauai state legislators were split:

Senator Ronald Kouchi and Representative James Tokioka voted No and against marriage equality.

Representative Dee Morikawa and Representative Derek Kawakami (now Kauai Mayor) voted Yes and in support of marriage equality.

Why does anyone vote a certain way?

In my experience votes on these types of issues are cast either out of conviction, or fear. Either the legislator feels morally obligated to vote a certain way, and or they are fearful of the political consequences that accompany the vote.

We can speculate as to why someone votes a certain way or not, but to a large degree that is a wasted exercise. What matters most is the vote itself. Each legislator must justify their own votes to their own constituency and their own family. Their vote is their legacy and they have to own it.

Mahalo to Representative Morikawa and now Mayor Kawakami for your vote in support of marriage equality. I deeply appreciate and thank you for supporting this issue and that critically important vote of November 8, 2013.

“Love is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul, the golden link which binds us.” Petrarch


Gary Hooser formerly served in the Hawaii State Senate, where he was Majority Leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

  1. Robert "Tito" Edwards June 26, 2019 1:27 am Reply

    “(S)ex between an older and younger man—the primary form of male-to-male sexuality practiced among the Greeks—was coarse and vulgar, because sexual passion was intemperate and irrational in its nature, and thus not in keeping with “true love, which is a love of beauty and order.” —Plato

    “For this is what living with a woman in marriage is: for a man to beget children by her and present his sons to his fellow clansmen and members of his district and to give daughters as his own in marriage to their husbands. Courtesans (Greek hetairas) we have for pleasure, concubines for daily service to our bodies, but wives for the procreation of legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of the household.” —Demosthenes

  2. kauaidoug June 26, 2019 8:00 am Reply

    Mahalo, Mr Hooser for your words. I was wondering as I looked at the large crowd how many local politicians were assessing the same crowd. If they weren’t there, and I heard several remarks in the crowd about who was and wasn’t there, I am sure they will be next year for an even bigger and better parade. There were lots and lots of voters. We will remember who were friends and foes!

  3. gordon oswald June 26, 2019 9:52 am Reply

    Why TGI continues to give a platform for this loser is a mystery, but oh well. Our Country is becoming more divided every day, and many of our finest have the common sense to realize that most of what made our “Great” Country the envy and destination of the world is under assault and hurtling our Society to collapse. The most Conservative and traditional among us recognize the danger of “free” everything promises by stupid power obsessed politicians, loosening morals, Government corruption etc. and are intent on protecting the America as created by the Constitution and Social civility that has been so incredible for all of us. I went to YouTube and perused all the videos I could find showing “Gay Pride Parades” and “liberal/progressive demonstrations” from around the world, and I challenge everyone to do the same. What did I find? Kauai’s unfortunate future.

    1. Steven McMacken June 27, 2019 3:40 am Reply

      Why TGI continues to give a platform for this loser is a mystery, but oh well.

    2. kauaidoug June 27, 2019 6:44 am Reply

      You can also take a peek at any of Trump’s rallies and see an even worse future, IMO. Try watching Handmaid’s Tale.

    3. james June 27, 2019 7:22 am Reply

      It seems like every time I watch the news, some ultra conservative politician or preacher is “outed” for a gay tryst or some elicit affair outside of marriage. They preach family values but live a double life. I prefer folks who are honest, don’t hide their true selves, and are proud of who they are. The real measure of a person is how they act, behave, and treat others, not their sexual preference. If you are politically conservative but like men or have affairs, then just tell us and be honest. You may lose your next election, but better than living a lie.

  4. Pete Antonson June 26, 2019 5:48 pm Reply

    Yes, it is a difficult time for many traditional conservatives even though they have their own self described serial molester of women in the WH! They see, slipping away, their established unequality and licence to discriminate by merely being a white, male, hetero, lip serving christian, who believes in a low wage, unbenefited, capitalist system where the boss struts as a demigod. This made America great; FOR THEM! Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted!

  5. Kauaidoug June 27, 2019 6:42 am Reply

    Yes, and for as long as men and women have been procreating, childbirth has been a way to tie women down by them having children that they then take care of.

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