Marriage equality has a full year under its belt in Hawaii, and the Ninth Circuit has ruled that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but one state lawmaker is still set on passing a state constitutional amendment to keep same-sex couples from marrying.
Rep. Bob McDermott (R) has introduced a new bill proposing a constitutional amendment ballot question to limit marriage to different-sex couples. It doesn’t say much else. And so far, it has no other support in the House.
But McDermott is a fervent opponent of LGBT rights generally, and he has taken every step he can to fight marriage equality. In fact, he’s convinced the legislature should have never approved marriage equality back in 2013. He filed a suit claiming that Hawaii’s amendment empowering the legislature to define marriage only empowered it to define it one way. A state judge was not convinced by his arguments, but he continued to appeal up to the Hawaii Supreme Court, which heard the case in December.
So far, the Hawaii Supreme Court hasn’t made any ruling, but they’ve allowed same-sex marriages to proceed throughout the whole process. In the year and change it’s been legal, over 3,000 same-sex couples have married in Hawaii. Even if the court humors McDermott’s claims, a federal court could still overturn the ban that was in place — probably fairly quickly — because of the Ninth Circuit’s precedent in Nevada and Idaho. Hawaii actually had a case that was originally part of that challenge, but it was declared moot when the state legislature approved marriage equality on its own.
McDermott’s only other legislative priority, it seems, is challenging a sex education program called “Pono Choices.” He worries that it is “normalizing anal sex and homosexual behavior,” and continues to object to taxpayer money being used to fund it. Over the past year, almost every post on McDermott’s Facebook page was about marriage equality or sex education, except for his one other complaint about Alabama teachers attending a “Teaching Tolerance’ workshop by the Southern Poverty Law Center — a variation on the same theme.
But if it seems McDermott is motivated by his homophobia and nothing else, he, at least, argues otherwise. In a December 2013 interview with SiriusXM Progress’ Michelangelo Signorile, McDermott claimed that he’s not a bigot because, “In 2000, I had an openly male homosexual work for me on my staff.” When Signorile called him out for using the clinical term “homosexual” to describe his gay employee, McDermott insisted that conservatives fear being “pilloried and demonized” by the “dictates of the PC Police.”