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How Progressives Can Effect Change with Obama as President

Originally written for the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii blog on July 25, 2011

It has been suggested that the previous post should have been geared more along the lines of this topic. After thinking about, it, I decided that instead of rewriting it, I should simply write a follow-up post. For starters, I think it is important to say, again, and with no equivocation, that Obama isn’t progressive, even though there are those who believe he is, “in his heart of hearts.” Using this notion as a starting point for action is, in my opinion, a mistake and progressives will serve their causes much better if they first abandon it.

I’ll be referring to PDH for my examples, but the concepts will obviously apply to other organizations, as well as individuals.

Civil Rights HI Politics

For My Part

Written for the Equality Hawaii blog on June 6, 2011

I thought I’d take an opportunity to share a bit about my experience with Equality Hawaii, how I got involved in the gay-marriage battle, and what I’ve learned.

When the House Committee on Judiciary, in 2007, had a public hearing on a civil unions bill, I was in attendance. I had been politically active in Hawaii for a little over a year and it was the first time I attended a public hearing at the Capitol. I was there to support my friends Bill Woods and Lance Bateman and the atmosphere was largely positive, as was the testimony. Being new and politically naive, I left the hearing when the Committee recessed for decision-making; I assumed since there had been so much support for the bill (at least in the room), the bill would pass. I woke up the next date to read the disheartening news that the Judiciary Chair had decided to defer decision-making on the bill, essentially “killing” it for the rest of the session.

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Obama Supports Gay Marriage?

Written for the Equality Hawaii blog on May 21, 2011

The other day I saw an article from On Top Magazine suggesting the President will support Gay Marriage.” After glancing at the article, I posted this on Facebook:

Good for him… Still, I find the timing a bit suspect (shortly after the launch of his reelection campaign) and while this is a promising development, people shouldn’t take him at his word during the campaign. Supporters of marriage need to CONTINUOUSLY PUSH Obama on this  issue. We’re definitely winning the fight and the tide is turning and this is reflected in Obama’s “evolution,” but we mustn’t rest on our laurels….

I’ve been thinking about this more and just went back to take a second look at the short article. Obama’s support isn’t explicit in the article. In fact, his position could easily be described as nondescript;

Civil Rights HI Politics

For Bill Woods

As we approach the final passage of SB232 HD1, the Civil Unions bill, which will be signed by the Governor next week, I’ve been thinking a lot about Bill Woods.

To be honest, I can’t quite remember when or where I first met him, but I used to work with his husband, Lance Bateman, who was my boss for a number of years after I arrived in Hawaii. I have fond memories of Bill, though he and I often disagreed, mostly on how to approach a certain issue. He was passionate and hot tempered and some might describe him as hard to deal with. That was never my sense of him. He was a dedicated and tireless advocate for social justice; not just for the GLBT community. He was a active member of the Democratic Party of Hawaii and the Party is better for it.

Civil Rights HI Politics

From a Demoralized Activist, Part 1

Friday Hawaii saw the cowardly defeat of House Bill 444, which would have provided equal benefits to same-sex couples. Aside from the crushing and demoralizing defeat by a procedural voice-vote (House members couldn’t even bring themselves to take a roll-call vote on the motion), there is a sad irony in the movement’s most recent defeat. The movement to ensure equal rights to same-sex couples started right here in the early 90’s.

What’s more ironic is the bill’s final death took place in the same chamber that saw its end in the same chamber that passed it just one year ago, merely a single vote shy of a two-thirds majority vote. Yes, the same people that passed the bill so overwhelmingly last year felt the undeniable need to save themselves from perceived losses in the coming elections. Rather than stand on principle, rather than do the honorable thing and grant these residents and citizens the State Supreme Court has said they deserve, our elected officials in the State House of Representatives tucked their tails between their legs and voted to save their jobs.

Civil Rights National Issues

Congressional Hypocrisy

This week the U.S. Congress moved one step closer to expanding Hate Crimes Legislation to include protections against crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation.

There is no doubt that this is a huge step forward in the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation. What’s more,  President Obama again pledged to today to end the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in the military. This pledge, unfortunately comes without any specifics with regard to a timeline for such an end.

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The Race for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional

In the spirit of full-disclosure, I should say right up front  that I do not and will not support Ed Case in his bid for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional seat in 2010. I didn’t support him when he ran against Senator Akaka in 2006 and I in fact worked on Akaka’s campaign. I feel I should say, however, that politically, he’s not totally bad. As a self-proclaimed progressive, I will say that he’s generally good on social justice issues, such as same-sex marriage, as well as on environmental issues.

Seeing as he’s started campaigning so early and seeing as how I’ve already received a flier from his campaign in my mailbox, I thought I’d start laying out the reasons for voting for someone else. Let’s start with the aforementioned flier.

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Prejudice in Paradise?

An article came to my attention yesterday on which I would like to comment. In this year’s fall issue of the Intelligence Report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) there is an article titled ‘Prejudice in Paradise,’  which discusses racism against whites by Native Hawaiians. It refers to and discusses racial slurs, like ‘haole,’ both verbal and physical harassment, and the State’s response, or lack thereof.

As is suggested in comments on the story at both and Volcanic Ash, I think the SPLC article is awkwardly one-sided. Does prejudice exist in Hawaii? Certainly. Do I need the SPLC to tell me that? No. The matter is far more complicated than a native culture breading violence against white people.

Civil Rights HI Politics

Regarding the Reprimand of Senator Gabbard

On Saturday, July 25, the Oahu County Committee (OCC) of the Oahu Democratic Party voted to set aside the recommendation of its Rules Committee to dismiss a complaint against State Senator Mike Gabbard and instead passed a resolution to reprimand the Senator.

Senator Gabbard is not a good Democrat, despite what some might say. In fact, before August 2007, he was a Republican; one reviled by most, if not all, Democrats. He was brought into the Party as part of a deal struck by State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. She agreed to support his membership in the Party, if he’d agree to join her faction in the Senate. At the time, the idea of allowing Gabbard into the Party made just about everyone I know sick and some long-time Party members even quit the Party in disgust. Despite the foul taste the whole thing left in our mouths, Democrats couldn’t keep him out.

Civil Rights HI Politics

Civil Unions May be Coming to Hawaii…. Soon

Yesterday was a good day.  i left work early and made my way to the capitol to take part in and be witness to the house judiciary committee’s hearing on civil unions, hb444.

Since the end of 2007, I’ve been working with the Family Equality Coalition. The FEC is the brainchild of a number of activists who were disappointed and disillusioned after the 2007 hearing on civil unions. The FEC, while now part of a broader coalition that includes some unions, faith groups, college and community organization, was instrumental in the early stages of this process.

In December PDH officially became a member organization of the FEC….