By Rich Figel
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.