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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

HB 444 HD1

Relating to
Civil Unions

Senate Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations (JGO) - chair: Taniguchi, vice chair: Takamine

Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 9:00 A.M. State Capitol Auditorium

Testifier: Jean Aoki, LWV of Hawaii Legislative Liaison

Click here to view HB444 HD1

Chair Taniguchi, Vice Chair Takamine, members of the JGO Committee,

The League of Women Voters strongly supports HB 444, HD1 which would give the same civil rights to all of our citizens regardless of their sexual orientations.

We believe that scientific evidence points to the determination of sexual orientation as a natural state and not a matter of choice. Given that fact, the opposition has no grounds for denying this group all of the rights the rest of us enjoy.

Throughout the two-hundred and plus years of our country's history, many prejudices and discriminations have, if too slowly, been overcome and the equal rights of all United States citizens been accepted and laws enacted to provide for those rights except in regard to the gay and lesbian community. The prejudices still persists, This is especially true among older citizens who were brought up with the negative stereotypes passed on to them by their parents at a time when little was understood about the causes of a different sexual orientations and there was very little social interaction between the two groups, interaction which might have changed the negative perceptions harbored by the average citizen.

As more and more gays and lesbians go public in regard to their sexual orientation, including those in the public limelight, everyone gets to see that they are really no different from anyone else except in their sexual orientation -- different views on different issues like the rest of us, different ambitions just like the rest of us, etc. And as we interact with them and learn to really know them, whatever misconceptions we have had of them as a group will fade away, until finally they will just be people, a part of the human race like the rest of us.

Some people will regard this as viewing through rose-colored glasses, but I am firmly convinced that our younger generations are less apt to harbor the deeply instilled prejudices of the older generations, and each succeeding generation will become even more enlightened.

But we cannot wait for the younger generations to right the wrongs. If for the sake of the very young who may be even now tormented, not being able to handle the emotions that overwhelm them yet knowing that society frowns on their acceptance of those emotions.

The most eloquent and convincing testimony I heard at the House Judiciary Committee hearing was that given by David Henkins, the father of two children. I would like to quote his concluding paragraph in case you should miss it in the mass of testimonies you will hear today. Said he:

“My daughter is eight years old, and my son is five. They are too young at this point for me to know their sexual orientation. As a parent, my only hope is that, whether straight, gay, bisexual, or trans gender, they will find happiness in a committed relationship with someone they love. When they do, I want to ensure that they will enjoy the same legal rights as any other citizen of this state, regardless of the sex of their partner.

Please pass this bill.”

I would like to repeat his plea, please pass HB 444, HD 1.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this bill.


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