It's been a long and tumultuous two weeks for Hawaii.
Back in September, when Gov. Neil Abercrombie called for a special session to consider same-sex marriage legislation for Hawaii, it was largely assumed that such a bill would pass easily. After all, Hawaii is as solidly blue as they come: the Democratic Party there enjoys more than a 20-percentage-point advantage in party identification. How hard could it be to pass one of the cornerstones of the liberal agenda in such a state?
Well, two weeks into the special session, after thousands of testimonies, the deafening screams of protestors, and the deliberations of state legislators, we can safely say it: Hawaii is the country's best political paradox. While it looks like the bill (SB1) will ultimately be signed into law, it was not without a tortuous fight.
Below, the 17 most confusing things that have happened during Hawaii's special session on same-sex marriage:
1. A Gay Representative Proves She Is The Ultimate Enigma
Rep. Jo Jordan, an openly gay Democrat, voted against same-sex marriage saying, "I might vote against something that I personally believe in. I personally believe I should have the right.”
2. The House Judiciary Chair Thought This Was A Good Idea:
Absolutely anyone was allowed to testify for or against SB1 if they signed up in advance. To make it even worse, there was no limit on the amount of people who could testify. In the end, 5,184 people registered to speak.
3. "You'd Have To Kill Me"
During his testimony, the head of the Hawaii police officers union and an active police officer said that once he's retired, he'd never enforce a law supporting same-sex marriage.
4. A New Spin On Homophobia:
While many testimonies included the usual homophobic remarks about bestiality, pedophilia and AIDS, others included the idea that same-sex marriage in Hawaii would scare off Asian tourists.
5. LGBT Victories Beget Sports Victories
A woman from Massachusetts testified that when gay marriage was legalized in that state in 2004, "The Red Sox won the World Series." (Unfortunately, there are no pro sports teams in Hawaii.)
6. What Is The Aloha Spirit, Again?
Sen. Mike Gabbard, who is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard's father and who voted against same-sex marriage, said the discussion had included name-calling and death threats. "So much for the aloha spirit," he lamented.
7. Knock, Knock:
A female testifier named Ivan who is against the bill told the following joke: "Knock knock. Who's there? Ivan. Ivan who? Ivan to go home."
8. What'd They Teach In Your School???
Rep. Bob McDermott expressed concern that SB1 would force school books to teach the "homosexual lifestyle."
9. Oh, He Went There:
Republican Rep. Gene Ward said that if same-sex marriage passes, it'll be just like what happened after 9/11.
10. Logical Conclusions:
Sen. Slom proved his excellent grasp on logic: "By calling an elephant a donkey does not make it so. Marriage is marriage. It's separate."
11. Parents Stoop To New Lows:
Many parents complained that their children had to miss school in order to testify even though all testimonies were voluntary. One 7 year-old child testifying against same-sex marriage read the prepared statement: "Why would a child want to be in a house with one man and one man or one woman and one woman?"
12. And What, Exactly, Makes Something Less Gay?
Rep. Tom Brower, who supported the bill, asked if same-sex marriage would "make Hawaii’s gay community less gay.”
13. The Fact That The Debate Continued Even After This:
The Hawaii Attorney General testified that same-sex couples miss out on 1,100 federal benefits by not being married.
14. Desperation Gets A Catch Phrase:
As passage of SB1 began to seem inevitable, protestors against same-sex marriage gathered outside the Capitol and chanted ‘Let the people vote’ so loudly that representatives inside reportedly couldn't hear themselves talking. The protestors kept the chant going for hours. (The catch phrase was modified momentarily to, "Let the people pee" when the crowd wasn't allowed to leave the House chambers.)
15. Lawmakers Get Annoyed, Threaten To Shut Down:
Supporting his own measure to postpone the vote indefinitely, Rep. McDermott implied that the House should shut down the special session entirely: "Furthermore, when we're done with that, we should shut this whole thing down."
16. Impromptu Songs:
Some testifiers sang their opposition but even more randomly, at the beginning of the House hearing, someone in the audience started singing "Hawaii Pono'i," the state song and former national anthem of Hawaii. The full audience, opposition and proponents alike, and the lawmakers all stood to join in.
17. Democracy At Work:
Many testifiers seemed to be confused as to how democracy works, arguing that legislators should kill SB1 because people had waited in line for hours to testify, their cars had been towed, they had to take off time from work, and they were tired.
Also on HuffPost:
'2nd Amendment Remedies'
During Nevada's 2010 Senate election, an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/16/sharron-angle-floated-2nd_n_614003.html" target="_hplink">audio clip</a> surfaced of Sharron Angle <a href="http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/06/sharron_angle_floated_possibil.html" target="_hplink">raising</a> "Second Amendment remedies" as a viable solution to take when "government becomes out of control." The Tea Party-backed hopeful ultimately proved unsuccessful in her campaign to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
'I Do Not Wear High Heels'
Ken Buck, a Tea Party-backed contender who ultimately fell short in his bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado, made headlines in 2010 when he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/21/ken-buck-vote-for-me-beca_n_654990.html" target="_hplink">quipped</a> that people should vote for him "because I do not wear high heels."
'I Am Not A Witch'
Christine O'Donnell <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/04/christine-odonnell-witch-ad_n_750140.html" target="_hplink">captured headlines</a> in 2010 with a now-infamous campaign ad in which she tells voters, "I'm not a witch." She says, "I'm nothing you've heard. I'm you." O'Donnell was defeated in her campaign for Senate in Delaware by Democratic Sen. Chris Coons.
Scientists For Creationism?
Rep. Michele Bachmann <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Damah0KH-Co&feature=player_embedded" target="_hplink">said</a> in October of 2006, "There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design."
Democrats = Communists?
HuffPost's Jen Bendery <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/allen-west-democrats-communist-party_n_1417279.html" target="_hplink">reported</a> in April of this year: <blockquote>As many as 80 House Democrats are communists, according to Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.). West warned constituents at a Tuesday town hall event that he's "heard" that dozens of his Democratic colleagues in the House are members of the Communist Party, the <em>Palm Beach Post</em> <a href=" http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state/allen-west-hears-cheers-jeers-at-town-hall-2295766.html?cxtype=rss_news" target="_hplink">reported</a>. There are currently 190 House Democrats. West spokeswoman Angela Melvin later defended West's comments -- and clarified to whom West was referring. "The Congressman was referring to the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Communist Party has publicly referred to the Progressive Caucus as its allies. The Progressive Caucus speaks for itself. These individuals certainly aren't proponents of free markets or individual economic freedom," Melvin said in a statement to The Huffington Post.
Welfare Prison Dorms?
The AP <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/22/carl-paladino-backs-welfa_n_690284.html" target="_hplink">reported</a> in August of 2010 on then-New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino: <blockquote>Throughout his campaign, Paladino has criticized New York's rich menu of social service benefits, which he says encourages [undocumented] immigrants and needy people to live in the state. He has promised a 20 percent reduction in the state budget and a 10 percent income tax cut if elected. Asked at the meeting how he would achieve those savings, Paladino laid out several plans that included converting underused state prisons into centers that would house welfare recipients. There, they would do work for the state - "military service, in some cases park service, in other cases public works service," he said - while prison guards would be retrained to work as counselors. "Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we'll teach people how to earn their check. We'll teach them personal hygiene ... the personal things they don't get when they come from dysfunctional homes," Paladino said. ... Paladino told The Associated Press the dormitory living would be voluntary, not mandatory, and would give welfare recipients an opportunity to take public, state-sponsored jobs far from home. "These are beautiful properties with basketball courts, bathroom facilities, toilet facilities. Many young people would love to get the hell out of cities," Paladino he said. He also defended his hygiene remarks, saying he had trained inner-city troops in the Army and knows their needs. "You have to teach them basic things - taking care of themselves, physical fitness. In their dysfunctional environment, they never learned these things," he said.</blockquote>