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Gov. Lingle Compares Same-Sex Marriage To Incest, Doesn’t Realize Cousins Can Marry In Hawaii

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"Gov. Lingle Compares Same-Sex Marriage To Incest, Doesn’t Realize Cousins Can Marry In Hawaii"

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Yesterday, Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R) vetoed legislation extending civil unions to both same- and opposite-sex couples. In her announcement, she said that civil rights should be subjected to the “collective wisdom” of majority rule. As Igor Volsky pointed out, Lingle conflated civil unions with same-sex marriage. “Unlike marriage, civil unions are only recognized in the state in which they are performed and couples do not carry the benefits of civil unions across state lines,” he wrote.

In her first radio appearance after her veto, Good As You noted that Lingle continued to pretend that the legislation would undermine traditional marriage. She also claimed that if people believe marriage equality for same-sex couples is a “civil rights issue,” they should also be concerned that close relatives can’t marry either:

LINGLE: For those people who want to makes this into a civil rights issue, and of course those in favor of the bill, they see it as a civil rights issue. And I understand them drawing that conclusion. But people on the other side would point out, well, we don’t allow other people to marry even — it’s not a civil right for them. First cousins couldn’t marry, or a brother and a sister and that sort of thing. So there are restrictions, not to put it in the exact same category. But the bottom line is, it really can’t be a civil right if we are restricting it in other cases, and it’s been found to be legal in those other cases, that the restrictions.

Later in the segment, “Joe from Silver Spring, Maryland” called in and pointed out that in Hawaii, first cousins actually can get married. Lingle said that she had no idea whether or not that was true in the state she governs:

JOE: And the second point is, Gov. Lingle, you talked about restrictions on marriage. I have a first cousin named Kate, and I’m looking on the Department of Health website for Hawaii, and I could marry my cousin Kate in Hawaii, but I cannot marry the love of my life in Hawaii, so — or in terms of a civil union with him. So, I hope you will take that into consideration. [...]

LINGLE: Whether or not a first cousin can marry in Hawaii, I’ll have to go back and check. I don’t know that that’s untrue, but let me go back and check on that.

Lingle also claimed that “almost everyone I know” has friends who are “gay and involved in committed relationships,” but she stressed that same-sex marriage and civil unions are “not about a decision for individual couples. It’s about the impact that it has on society.” Listen here:

Lingle’s argument is popular with conservatives. Recently, former Arkansas governor and current Fox News personality Mike Huckabee said that legalizing marriage equality would “be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let’s go ahead and accommodate those who want who use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them.”

However, these statements are just a “dodge” to “distract people from the injustice of denying same-sex couples the same opportunity to marry that different-sex couples want to preserve for themselves,” as Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal has written:

The problem with “slippery slope” arguments…is that they assume that society and the law can’t make distinctions between situations that are different from one another. But we can tell apples from oranges. For example, that women got the right to vote does not mean that infants are next.

Davidson also notes that while there may be “compelling reasons to ban incestuous and polygamous marriages, including genetic concerns about the children of incestuous marriages, the importance of preventing coercion and abuse within families, and concerns about how young girls and women have fared under polygamy,” there are no such reasons to ban same-sex marriage.

Transcript:

LINGLE: For those people who want to makes this into a civil rights issue, and of course those in favor of the bill, they see it as a civil rights issue. And I understand them drawing that conclusion. But people on the other side would point out, well, we don’t allow other people to marry even — it’s not a civil right for them. First cousins couldn’t marry, or a brother and a sister and that sort of thing. So there are restrictions, not to put it in the exact same category. But the bottom line is, it really can’t be a civil right if we are restricting it in other cases, and it’s been found to be legal in those other cases, that the restrictions. [...]

HOST: We go to Silver Spring, Maryland, and Joe joins us today. Aloha, Joe. Welcome to the program.

JOE: Aloha.

LINGLE: Aloha, Joe.

JOE: Thank you for taking my call.

LINGLE: Sure.

JOE: I just wanted to make a couple points, then I can take your answer on when I’m off the air. But, I hope that those people that oppose gay marriage or gay civil unions or whatever, or are particularly calling it, will not use the argument that gay rights activists are trying to use the courts to get what, what they want. Because it’s been used twice now in Maine and Hawaii that we have gone through means in the legislature to get certain bills that we see are — will advance equality for gay people. That’s the first point.

And the second point is, Gov. Lingle, you talked about restrictions on marriage. I have a first cousin named Kate, and I’m looking on the Department of Health website for Hawaii, and I could marry my cousin Kate in Hawaii, but I cannot marry the love of my life in Hawaii, so — or in terms of a civil union with him. So, I hope you will take that into consideration.

HOST: Thank you, Joe, very much.

LINGLE: Thanks a lot, Joe, for the call. You know, Rick and I were talking offline, and I talked with so many people about this issue, that there — almost everyone I know has family members, friends, or both who are gay and involved in committed relationships. We don’t love them any less, and we don’t value them any less. It’s not about a decision for individual couples. It’s about the impact that it has on society. And both sides, I think, are looking at it from that point of view as well. Whether or not a first cousin can marry in Hawaii, I’ll have to go back and check. I don’t know that that’s untrue, but let me go back and check on that.

HOST: Appreciate the call very much, thank you Joe.

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