Gov Lingle Thinks the Voters should decide Civil Rights: From where did this stupid idea come?

From MSNBC.com, “Hawaii governor vetoes same-sex civil unions bill: Measure would have given gays the same benefits provided married couples”

Here is what the governor, Linda Lingle (R), said about why she vetoed a bill that would have “granted gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits that the state provides to married couples”:

“There has not been a bill I have contemplated more or an issue I have thought more deeply about during my eight years as governor than House Bill 444 and the institution of marriage,” Lingle said at a news conference. “I have been open and consistent in my opposition to same-sex marriage, and find that House Bill 444 is essentially same sex marriage by another name.”

She said voters should decide the fate of civil unions, not politicians.

“It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials,” Lingle said.[…]

Lingle said that “as difficult as the past few weeks have been, I am comfortable with my decision while knowing full well that many will be disappointed by it.”

Yes, I love when voters have the right to decide the civil rights of a minority. It has worked out so well for the minority in the past.

Of course, opponents of these civil unions were thrilled:

“What she did was very just, and I’m very happy about it,” said Jay Amina, 50, of Waianae. “It sends a good message throughout the state of Hawaii — that our people here on the islands are standing for traditional marriage.”

I know this has been said before, probably in much more lucid and historically-backed ways, but “traditional marriage” is a totally and completely false idea that simply functions as a way for people with the political power to define exactly what they think marriage should be and who should get to be full citizens in this country.  It wasn’t that long ago that “traditional marriage” included a husband being able to rape his wife with no legal repercussions (trigger warning on article).  It wasn’t that long ago that “traditional marriage” did not include any interracial couples by force of law.  It wasn’t that long ago that in “traditional marriage” divorce was incredibly hard to come by unless there was a good, sanctioned reason with one of the two parties being legally at fault in the decline of their marriage.  It wasn’t that long ago when “traditional marriage” was redefined to specifically block out polygamous marriage simply because people didn’t like the Mormons (though they aren’t high on my list either these days, but I could care less about their marriage practices).  It wasn’t that long ago that “traditional marriage” meant that men could marry immigrants or foreigners and retain their citizenship, but women could not.  (Man, in Googling to find that last link, I found this crap, which is crap.  Oh my god.  There is so much stuff out there like this.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Oh, and I didn’t find a link, so go read Nancy Cott’s Public Vows.)

The point is that being able to enter into marriage is clearly a political issue, even if people claim it is simply a moral one.  It has been since the USA became the USA back in the eighteenth century.  Part of the way that Americans define who counts as a full citizen is through that person’s ability to marry.  I know this post is about civil unions but we all know it’s about bigger ideas.  It isn’t simply that by denying gay couples the right to a civil union the governor has protected “traditional marriage” or is letting democracy run its course.  She is, in fact, through her power as the governor of Hawaii, denying full citizenship to gay Americans.  That’s the point, though, right? Proponents of so-called “traditional marriage” don’t just want to define marriage, they want to define who fits in the polity, who gets to be a citizen, who is actually representative of this country.

Perhaps one day people who carry such hate in their hearts won’t be allowed to get married because it is deemed unpatriotic and detrimental to the love that is supposed to be exemplified in marriage.  If only.

For me, there is no other way to understand this situation.

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