Good to see Local 5’s Eric Gill taking a stand on civil unions this week. The treasurer of Hawaii’s powerful hotel and restaurant workers union led a group of community leaders in calling for the Senate to pass HB 444. Tuesday’s statement was co-signed by a number of prominent local activists, including Hawaiians Vicky Holt Takamine and Puanani Burgess, and local NAACP chair Alphonso Braggs, and was a clear attempt to broaden and diversify the call for lesbian and gay equality, which has been repeatedly bashed as a haoles-only issue. It also keeps the story in the public eye at a moment in which one gets the clear impression that senators would rather have the whole thing disappear.
Civil unions may be left to die this session anyway, however. Dumb as it is, a lot of people seem persuaded by the argument that we can’t treat all people equally in times of economic crisis. Then there’s the senate’s long-standing reluctance to override the committee process and the fact that some legislators no doubt feel vulnerable about voting with gay and lesbian interests in the face of all those red-shirted mouth-foamers.
Local 5’s involvement has the potential to change the game by focusing the conversation on the families and individuals of all races and classes currently treated, by law, as second-class in this state.
“This bill is not about validating people’s existence, nor is it about endangering social institutions,” Gill said. “The notion that all people have a right to expect and receive fair treatment from our government is at the foundation of our democracy. It is written in our most fundamental law. It is the basic ideal that our government is expected to live up to.”
Is anybody at the Capitol listening?
Honolulu magazine is celebrating its March issue by looking at how arts institutions are coping with the economic crisis by hosting a panel discussion on the subject for Hawaii Public Radio (come to think of it, maybe we ought to do something on this—oh, wait. We did. Back in December). Anyway, the show will be taped live Sunday and aired on KHPR (88.1FM) March 22 at 6pm and on KIPO (89.3FM) March 24 at 5pm.
The state and federal governments are teaming up to teach you how to be smarter with your money. No joke.
Consumer Wise Fair, featuring representatives of the state departments of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Budget and Finance and Health, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Postal Service. ‘Ewa Beach Public School & Library, 91-950 North Rd., Thu 3/19, 10:30am–1pm, 689-1204