SB1

In five days, SB1 – the bill proposing marriage equality in the state of Hawai’i – will be heard by the Hawai’i Senate. Hawaii United for Marriage and the ACLU of Hawaii has been asking supporters to testify – and if they can’t do so in person, it is possible to submit written testimony.

Amanda and I would very much like to be present and vocally and insistently testify but daily life gets in the way of that indulgence. You see – we have the pushes and pulls, responsibilities and duties, the joys and heartbreaks of daily life – as women, educators, wives, mothers, friends, sisters, daughters. Yep, just because we’re gay doesn’t me that we’re exempt from reality. Both of us submitted written testimony. I’ve decided to share mine here. Please bear in mind, as you read it, that there was some existing (suggested) text from the ACLU and Hawaii United for Marriage and then I personalized it. I will also warn you that I got riled pissed infuriated as I was writing it; so it is possible probable I absolutely did not re-read or edit it. Ooops.

If you are so moved to also submit testimony – verbal (at the hearing) or written – you can find more information here.

To: Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor

Hearing Date/Time: Monday, October 28, 2013, 10:30 a.m.

Place:Capitol Auditorium

Re: Insistent Support of SB1, Relating to Equal Rights

Dear Chair Hee and Members of the Committee on Judiciary and Labor:

I am writing in strong support of SB 1.

I am sure that today you will be hearing and witnessing many stories in support and against this bill, but I’d like to share with you how real the implications of your decision are for my family.

I am a local girl – born and raised in Kailua. I left home for  seven years only to return as a single mother because I wanted to raise my child in a culture and place that respected diversity and demonstrated aloha. As a student affairs professional, I have worked at three local higher education institutions; in every role that I have served, I strive to demonstrate and cultivate an atmosphere of respect and inclusion for my campus communities and student populations.

Several years ago, I met the woman who has become my partner in this life and my wife. Amanda currently serves as the Director of Compliance at UH Manoa. Originally from Australia, she has been in Hawaii since 1996; recruited as a student-athlete and pursuing her bachelors and masters studies, she has made a home and a life for herself in our state. She has served in some capacity in the Athletics Department since her arrival to Hawaii, but has not yet been able to get a green card. Australia has a lottery system for green cards and, despite regularly entering the lottery, she hasn’t had the “luck of the draw”.

Since meeting Amanda, she and I have built a life together in this place that we call home. Our daily life is filled with the daily reality of raising our 8-year-old son, Kaleo, who attends {local} Elementary where I serve on the School Community Council; going to soccer practices and games which Amanda serves as coach and referee and any other role that needs to be filled on any given day; both Amanda and I go to our offices and serve our college students to the best of our abilities – doing what we can to foster their growth and development and belief in the “anything can be accomplished” philosophy because we know that our students are capable; we pay our bills; we go to the library; we cook our meals; we connect with our friends and our families; we advocate and educate; we do what we can to ensure that we leave our little corner of the world a better place than it was when we arrived here. We don’t ask or care what happens in the bedroom – or any other intimate space – of our neighbor … much less any other stranger that we encounter in our daily lives. And we expect that same respect to be reciprocated.

We are responsible and capable adults who are able to make decisions for our life. We hold our own beliefs and morals and we don’t require anyone else to buy into them. We respect that others have differing opinions on life and how to live it. But the opinions of others should not have the power to determine the legitimacy of our family. The spiritual or religious beliefs of others do not have the power to do so either. I was raised in a Baptist school and the Catholic church; I know many faces of God. But I also know that the foundational tenet of Christianity of FREE WILL. The very nature of disputing the freedom to marry is in contradiction to the fundamental beliefs of the religious argument that so many are putting forth against marriage equality.

All of that aside, marriage equality is a civil right – not a privilege of the majority. Had the opinion and the right of the majority determined the rights of the minority, I might never have been born. You see, I’m the product of an interracial marriage. It wasn’t that long ago when it was determined that the mixing of races was detrimental to society and religion and the foundation of this world as we know it. None of that was true. And it isn’t pertinent now to same-sex marriage either. At the end of the day, who I lie down to, who I’ve committed my life and myself to, who I fight the daily battles of life and raise my child with doesn’t affect the choices made by any other family. But the choice of passing this bill DOES affect our rights and ability to continue life as equal citizens. Most immediately, without the passing of this bill, I will STILL NOT be able to sponsor my wife for a green card because we will not be the federal rights and responsibilities to a heterosexual couple.

Seriously, is the most persuasive argument   put forth against my marriage to my wife that one of us doesn’t have a penis? Yes – that is a ridiculous and stupid argument. But, when you whittle away the pretty language and the religious justifications that the opposition of SB1 is putting forth, that is the crux of their argument.

The freedom to marry the person you love is a basic freedom that should not be denied to anyone.  Gay and lesbian couples get married for similar reasons as everyone else – to make a lifetime promise of love, commitment and fidelity to the person they love.

In Hawaii, we don’t turn our backs on family.  No member of anyone’s ohana – gay or straight – should have to face shame because of who they are and who they love.

The government should not be in the business of telling people who they can and cannot marry.  None of us would want to be told that it is illegal to marry the person we love.

Please pass this bill to allow for marriage equality for all of Hawaii’s families.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify.

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