Career Changers

Vegas, Weddings and HB 444

July 7th, 2010

I intended to blog about my Fourth of July weekend trip to Las Vegas, and observations related to jobs and things Hawaii can learn (or avoid) from that city. But after hearing about Gov. Lingle's decision to allow legalized discrimination against a group of people based on their sexual orientation, I felt someone should directly address the whole "marriage is sacrosanct" nonsense.

If marriage is so important, then why did Lingle get a divorce? I was raised as a Catholic, and in that church, divorce isn't allowed. If "traditional" marriage is so sacred, why aren't the Red Shirts protesting against Vegas wedding chapels where ministers dressed as Elvis perform ceremonies for drunken couples who get hitched on the spur of the moment? What about those reality TV shows like THE BACHELOR that turn this "holy" event into a silly dating game?

If Gov. Lingle feels it's her duty to regulate marriage between men and women, why doesn't she impose waiting limits and committee reviews to make sure those couples will uphold the "sacrosanct" clause she and Mufi refer to? Let's be honest: The only real threat to traditional marriages is adultery and divorce. Yet neither Lingle or Duke Aiona will talk about that simple truth.

One reason Las Vegas continues to flourish and remains so popular among Hawaii residents is that the people in Nevada don't try to legislate morality. Meanwhile, Lingle's veto of HB 444 sends a message to the world at large that gays are not welcome here. That's just a boneheaded economic decision, which will hurt Hawaii in the long run. It's more negative publicity that we don't need.

But here's what really angers me. When we got off the plane in Vegas and took a shuttle to our hotel with other Hawaii folks, there was a young local guy yakking on his cell about going to a stag party (yay, traditional marriage!). His friend wasn't going to be there, so this juvenile idiot keeps saying, "That's so gay, dude!" As if the ultimate insult was to be gay. Wonder where he got that notion-- from one of the churches where they preach that being homosexual is a lifestyle choice? Or did he pick it up from the anti-"Rainbow" UH sports fans on message boards where they have macho sounding "Warrior" nicknames? Lingle's veto will be hailed as a win for her homophobic supporters and encourage more gay-bashing.

But anti-gay crusaders should consider this irony: their straight sons and daughters are hanging out in places like Waikiki and Vegas, where girls dress like streetwalkers in skintight dresses and guys casually brag about "hooking up" with as many chicks as possible. Perhaps, the Red Shirts should start waving signs in front of those night clubs too for sinful behavior.

All gay couples are asking for is to be allowed to have the same civil rights as monogamous heterosexual couples like my wife and I have. I'm not surprised people in more progressive cities and countries view Hawaii as a banana republic. This was a political decision by Lingle, pure and simple. There is nothing complicated about understanding that discrimination is discrimination. Call her veto what it really is: a failure of leadership.

Next post: More thoughts on Vegas and whether some forms of gambling can help Hawaii stay competitive with destinations that have lots to offer visitors.

Speaking of travel, here's the link for Charley Memminger's YouTube clip of a segment he did for the current Career Changers show (viewing times are on our CCTV website).

18 Responses to “Vegas, Weddings and HB 444”

  1. Rich Figel:

    As blog moderator, I get to approve or delete comments. I don't mind dissenting views, as long as they are rational and have merit. I will not post remarks that attack me personally. Period.

    That said, I'm going to share an email I just received from a long-time visitor to Hawaii, who I have never met. She gave me permission to share this with you...



    I am not a Hawaii resident (I live in California) but I do travel to Hawaii as often as I can -- usually 2 to 5 times per year. I also had hopes of one day retiring to Hawaii with my spouse, who is of the same sex. We are two women who were married in California during the five months in which same sex marriage was legal during 2008. Although our own state's Proposition 8 made gay marriage illegal in California, the 18,000 couples who were married during those five months did not have their marriage overturned. As a result, we are still legally married in our state.

    So it is with great interest that I have been watching the civil union discussion in Hawaii, as well as intensely following Gov. Lingle's decision. I was so disappointed to watch her press conference yesterday when she chose to veto HB 444. The most painful part of all was actually when she relayed the "anguish" a mother felt that her children would be taught that same sex marriages are equivalent to heterosexual relationships.

    Still, I do not share the desire of many in my community to boycott the Aloha state. (I fully admit this may be rationalizing on my part as I would die without my fix of frozen mai tais at Keoki's Paradise in Poipu!). I thank the Legislature for having the courage to pass the bill in the first place. I do not fault the entire state for the actions of one misguided woman (after all my own governor, Arnold, vetoed same sex marriage as well). I will admit, I probably will no longer harbor dreams of retiring to Hawaii. My marriage is not recognized by the federal government, but it is by the state of California. I would lose a great deal of rights (tax based, inheritance, visitation, adoption, etc.) if I were to move to Oahu as I had planned.

    So I relinquish the dream of living there. But nothing will stop me from playing my ukulele on the ocean wall of Lahaina, watching the sunset hula show at the House Without A Key in Waikiki, or feeling the balmy tradewinds in my beautiful Kauai. I plan to get on that Hawaiian Airlines plane next week to take me to the wonders of the Ukulele Festival at Kapiolani Park, where I will enjoy the sights, sounds and feel of aloha. And nothing will stop me, not even the actions of one misguided woman.

    Thank you for your blog entry, it is the support of straight allies like you that will ultimately allow civil rights to be achieved (hopefully in my lifetime). I appreciate you speaking on our behalf.

    Mahalo nui loa,

    (Name withheld by request)

  2. Ian:

    "Let’s be honest: The only real threat to traditional marriages is adultery and divorce."

    Say a man and a woman has a traditional marriage. Do you think that their marriage would be threatened if one came out as being gay/lesbian (no adultery or divorce)? If they have children, do you think that there would be any effects on those children?

  3. Rich Figel:

    The reason gay men and women enter traditional marriages in the first place is because they were led to believe there was something wrong with being gay. There have ALWAYS been gays in the closet living as married couples -- which is sad for everyone involved, including the children. In many cases, when gay parents come out to their children, it's not a surprise and the kids are the ones who benefit from having parents who are honest.

    Living a lie to satisfy someone else's religious beliefs is a terrible way to go through life, don't you think? Isn't it worse to pretend you are something you're not? What kind of example does that set for children?

  4. Ian:

    Regardless of religion, traditional marriage has always been between one man and one woman, correct? So if it is true that gay men and women are already gay when entering into a traditional marriage, is this in itself, in addition to adultery or divorce, also a threat to traditional marriage?

  5. Rich Figel:

    No, marriage hasn't always been between one man and one woman. Read the Bible. Polygamy at one time was perfectly acceptable. At another time, interracial marriage was banned in this country. So your analogy about "threat" would be the same as saying someone's race is a "threat" to traditional marriage.

    Please explain to me how two gay people entering a civil union or getting married would threaten your marriage or mine? But I will say this: gay people shouldn't enter into straight marriages because they feel pressured by society to do so. No one should be forced to marry anyone they don't want to marry for whatever reason.

  6. notnasti:

    I agree with your "legalized discrimination" statement. In America, we are supposed to protect minorities against the tyranny of the majority. We have religious freedom here, because as a minority religion, Christians were being persecuted in the "old world". I am disgusted with Linda Lingle for stringing us along when as she said, "I made up my mind last week." I also believe that there will be an unfortunate backlash against the brave legislators who (even contrary to their own personal and religious beliefs) voted for HB444. I am personally opposed to same sex marriages but I believe that the freedoms afforded to all individuals by the constitution of the United States and Hawaii supersedes my own biases and prejudices.

  7. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc:

    My older brother entered into five marriages and had a total of nine children including one in high school because he thought that these actions would keep him from having to admit that he was a homosexual. Shortly after our father died in 1990. my brother FINALLY opened the closet door and has been in a committed relationship with another man for over 19 years now.

    Did I know? Not at first because my bro was a superstar jock. But somewhere around 1985 I began to wonder what was going on. In fact, I saw it as a feminist issue and got really angry because of the way he treated his wives and kids.

    About a decade ago, he decided that he had to make amends with the women and children whose lives he'd so profoundly impacted. Of his nine children, he now has a positive and wholesome relationship with six of them while the other three essentially told him to stay away and never come back again. All of his ex-wives were quite welcoming - and three of them said that in retrospect they knew that signs were all there - they just didn't want to admit it.

    How can we allow this to continue? It will because being homosexual is considered to be disgusting by a significant segment of our society. .

  8. Rich Figel:

    Doc -
    Wow... thanks for sharing that personal story. But it's easy to see how people can get twisted up inside when outside forces insist on trying to "convert" people who know they are different. Glad to hear your brother was able to mend his relationships. Too many gays are disowned by their families and friends when they finally get the courage to be honest about who they really are.

    As for the "ick" factor, another irony is many straight people are engaging in sexual practices that used to be deemed disgusting by hetero males -- but when they do it with a woman, for some reason they find it to be a huge turn-on. And I'm talking about putting things in places that weren't designed for that purpose, if you get my drift. Animals also engage in homosexual activity in nature too, so no one can say what is "natural" or not when it comes to sex.

  9. Rich Figel:

    Notnasti - Thanks for not being nasty! Just curious though, why are you opposed to same sex marriages?

    I find it interesting that the big complaint against gays in the 80s was they were too promiscuous. Now the same people who complained about gay promiscuity don't want to allow them to settle down into boring, monogamous relationships like most hetero married couples have! Go figure.

  10. bruddahsam:

    why are we not going after the companies that discriminate?

    its too easy to blame the governor, legislature, judges, aclu ect ect ect ect!!

    Hurt these companies that wont treat you fairly where it hurts them, in their wallets.

  11. Rich Figel:

    Brudda -
    Why do you think so many big companies that were part of the Roundtable group publicly denounced the letter calling for a veto of HB 444, which many Roundtable members had no say in drafting? They didn't want their company name to be associated with such an anti-gay agenda.

    However, without legislation, most businesses would not provide any benefits that cost them money -- regardless of your sexual orientation or gender. Until Obama's health care reforms were passed, I believe Hawaii was one of the few states that required employers to proved health insurance for full-time workers. And that was only because it was the law.

    But I agree we shouldn't be doing business with anti-gay companies -- or supporting politicians who don't have the backbone to do what is legally and morally right. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter how much they try to tap dance around the issue.

  12. bruddahsam:

    rich in response to you the real threat here to conservatives is progressive values overshadowing traditional conservative values. ill give you an example.

    Progressives blotted out the roles of blacks in the revolutionary war. also the relationships blacks and whites had when the nation was created. This led to john crow laws and segregation by Woodrow Wilson around 1920. None of this history is taught in school or it was until Woodrow Wilson got a hold of it and squashed it. civil rights movement of 64 desegregated and re guaranteed rights blacks already had. But change did not happen until people saw the violence against protesters and overwhelmingly peoples hearts everywhere took over and support for the civil changes occurred.

    conservatives fear progressive change because of what progressives do to society. Most conservatives view the gay rights movement as a progressive agenda.

  13. Rich Figel:

    Bruddah Sam -
    I'm a bit confused about your statement that "progressives blotted out the roles of blacks in the Revolutionary War..." How so? Back then, who were the "progressives" -- the Founding Fathers, the tea party rebels, the Minute Men? In the 60s, who were the "progressives" -- feminists, hippies, the nerds who founded Apple and Microsoft?

    Granted, conservatives don't like anything that messes with their concept of traditional values. But much of what they accept now came about as the result of progressives. For instance, we have a Jewish woman governor. If not for progressives, how would that even be possible? Yet her veto of HB 444 is a regressive, back-stepping act. Look at Texas -- they want to make homosexual "sodomy" a criminal offense again! Do we want Hawaii to be the butt of national jokes too? (Pun intended.)

  14. bruddahsam:

    progressives of the 1900 theodore roosevelt, franklin d roosevelt, woodrow wilson and punny joke very punny joke lol

  15. notnasti:


    This is my problem . . . I have no problem with same-sex marriages. In fact, I think it would be good for tourism. Gay and lesbians tend to be higher educated and would more than likely drop more coin in our islands than heteros. However, it (gay lifestyle) is not my preference, and I don't think I would handle it well if one of my kids told me they were gay. Like I said, its my problem. But I don't think that its fair to prohibit or limit individual freedoms, and the freedom to choose one's life partner, gay or not, should not be subject to legislation.

  16. Rich Figel:

    Notnasti -
    Here's the thing: there really ISN'T a typical gay "lifestyle." Trust me on this -- I used to live in NYC and work in the Greenwich Village area for a legal publishing company that employed many gays. Sure, some were flamboyant and limp-wristed. But one of my best friends, who is gay, was a die-hard Yankees fan (me too) who played in a gay softball league (they were good too, and some had straight ringers) and looked like one of the Ramones... he was friends with famous punk rockers, and a really funny, soft-spoken guy you'd enjoy hanging out with probably.

    I suspect that if one of your kids told you they were gay, you'd eventually accept it and handle it well because it sounds like you are a tolerant person who is open-minded and willing to admit your own prejudices. We all have our own biases and prejudices, me included... none of us are perfect. Any religion that preaches about impossible standards of human perfection is bound to set up followers for failure and feelings of guilt.

    Admitting imperfections in ourselves makes it possible for tolerance of other people's imperfections, and that allows us to accept people for who they are -- not what we want them to be. Live and let live, as they say in 12 Step programs.

  17. dababam:

    If the religious right really wants gays to stop having sex then all the more reason that they should be in favor of same sex marriage because marriage is the best way of getting two individuals to stop having sex.

  18. Rich Figel:

    Dababam -
    Ha! No comment since my wife reads this blog...

    Actually, I do have another comment: It's not a matter IF civil union or gay marriage will be approved, it's a question of when. The reality is a majority of people under the age of 35 don't have a problem with gays or gay marriage. Same as when equal rights were proposed for blacks and women... the older people with their long-held beliefs and prejudices eventually die off, and things change.

    Then when the sky doesn't fall, everyone wonders why there was so much fuss and resistance to something that is clearly good for society. Discrimination is just flat out wrong.