Summer 1997 Home   Newsletters

Fall 1997


President's Message (Jean Aoki)
Tom Grey of NCALG Coming to Hawaii
Education Committee Report
Web Page
State Board Actions
League Local News - Hawaii County
League Local News - Honolulu
League Local News - Kauai
National Domestic Violence Conference (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Cindy Spencer Receives Unsung Hero Award '97
National Convention
Reflections on Hawaii (Mary Anne Raywid)
Making Democracy Work Campaign Finance Reform (Toni Worst)
New York State Con Con Vote
Thank You!
Meet Your Board
Charter Schools (insert)
Hawaii's Bill of Rights (insert) (Ann Feder Lee)

President's Message

In November of 1998, Hawaii voters will be asked to decide whether Article I of the Constitution of Hawaii should be amended by adding a new section to be designated and to read as follows:

Section 23. The Legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Article I of our state constitution reserves certain rights to our citizens, and although many of the rights are not absolute because we do need to balance the rights of individuals against the need for public safety and order and the general welfare of all the people, government cannot arbitrarily restrict these rights without showing compelling state interest. It is the Bill of Rights and other restrictions on government's powers in our constitution added to our power of the vote that protects us from the tyranny of government. Our state constitution, as does the constitutions of many other states, provide more detailed civil rights and liberties provisions than our federal constitution and contains additional rights provisions.

It is within this Article I, Bill of Rights, that the state is proposing to insert this "Section 23," which would reserve a certain right for one segment of the population and deny it to another segment. League does not have a position on the same-sex marriage issue, but League does have a position to oppose major threats to basic constitutional rights.

Can League silently allow the restriction of any of our rights to any segment of the population?. Can we silently suffer the defilement of Article I which grants and preserves our civil rights by inserting a section which would deny rights to one segment of our population?

Proponents of this amendment are not going to be satisfied with its passage since it only gives the Legislature the authority to rule on it. Future attempts will be made to amend or delete certain sections of the Bill of Rights for a more permanent resolution of the issue.

At its October 18th meeting, your Board of Directors reaffirmed our commitment to support and protect the Bill of Rights as presently stated in the Constitution of the State of Hawaii. So we will be taking a stand on the above issue and oppose the proposed amendment. We will also vigorously defend our constitutional rights from assault in other areas. For example, foes of reproductive choice will want to weaken our rights to personal autonomy and choice. Proponents of school vouchers will work to abolish our constitution's explicit provision that no public funds "be appropriated for the support or benefit of any sectarian or private educational institution."

With Anne Feder Lee's permission, we are mailing you with this issue of the Ka Leo O Hana, the first few pages of her book, The Hawaii State Constitution - A Reference Guide, which discusses the first six sections of Article I, including Equality of Rights, the "First Amendment" rights, Due Process and Equal Protection, and the Right to Privacy.

We welcome your ideas and comments on this and the other issues we are addressing at this time.

P.S. On page 5, Mary Anne Raywid, who was first introduced to us as the visiting professor from Hofstra University many years ago and is now a resident of our state, presents some interesting observations and suggestions from the perspective of someone who can still see Hawaii with the fresh eyes of a Malihini and yet has obviously learned a great deal about us.

Jean Aoki

Summer 1997 Home   Newsletters Spring1998