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Lawmakers must listen to Hawai‘i citizens

July 23, 2014
Chayne Marten - Candidate for State House,West Maui , Maui Weekly

What was the price to the taxpayers for the special session of our legislators regarding same sex marriage? It was $76,800; could that money have been put to better use?

The governor shouldn't be able to call for a special session unless it is an emergency. After all, those in favor of this legislation have waited a lifetime for this result. Just a few more months of waiting could have saved us all not just money, but also heartbreak.

There is, however, a much greater cost: the loss of faith in our government. Instead, fear has been installed in the hearts of the people everywhere. Fear to speak their minds regarding controversial issues (because no one wants to be labeled anything negative). We who cherish our freedom believe our Constitution provides us the pursuit of religious liberties, truth and happiness. The greatest of these virtues is truth. Should truth be bent to appease those who seek justification? What is worse -- to be politically wrong, or compromise principles and standards?

The issue I want to point out is not same sex marriage; the issue is that our legislators denied us a fundamental right to be heard. People on the Neighbor Islands were not offered an opportunity to address the committee hearing without going to Oahu. The special session of our legislators was televised. Many of us witnessed the heartfelt testimonies before our House of Representatives.

We were moved with compassion by the multitude of people asking, pleading and praying to allow the people the opportunity to vote on this monumental legislation -- certainly, the most important legislation in any of our lives.

Over 23,000 people offered written testimony. Over 5,000 people signed up to speak, and just over 1,000 people actually did speak. The majority of testimony was against same sex marriage. The legislators listened but few heard their words, because they had already hardened their hearts to the people.

Many had already decided this issue long before testimony began. No words would soften their hearts; their minds were made up. It really didn't matter what the people wanted. Our legislators were determined to follow their leader, (our governor) and his advice and agenda.

The Senate voted on this bill, totally discounting the will of the people. Our senator, Roz Baker, supported SB1 as originally written, without offering any amendments or protections for churches and businesses that cater to the wedding industry. No option to opt out? That was certainly shortsighted at least.

The goal was to rush it through ASAP, with a promise to revisit it later during regular session. HB 1624 was to restore religious liberties lost through SB1. This bill was rejected by both houses; so much for promises!

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, everyone should be alarmed at our leaders refusing to yield to the people. The good news is the heavy cloud of disappointment is lifting. The sleeping giant has been rudely awakened. Now hope will stir the hearts of everyone, knowing it's an election year. Our votes have the power to create the change we so desperately need.


Candidate for State House,West Maui



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