Bob McDermott, Hawaii Lawmaker, Defends Efforts To Overturn State's Gay Marriage Law

12/04/2013 01:23 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dozens of Hawaii gay and lesbian couples have been marrying since the stroke of midnight on Monday under the state’s new marriage equality law. But one GOP legislator, Bob McDermott, a member of Hawaii's House of Representatives, is still determined to stop same-sex marriage in the Aloha State, and will head to court next month with a challenge to the law. Still, McDermott said in an interview that he wants to “innoculate” himself from being called “a bigot, a hater, a homophobe, or ignorant.”

McDermott, a former Marine and married father of eight children, last month tried to prevent the law from taking effect, claiming that a 1998 ballot measure which gave the legislature the power to define marriage was misunderstood by voters, whom he claims believed the measure they passed was meant to ban gay marriage in the state's constitution. Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled the legislators' action was legal and refused to issue a restraining order blocking the marriage equality law from taking effect, and the marriages began Dec. 2.

McDermott has now filed a new motion to have the law overturned, and since he’s been offered a hearing there’s at least a slim chance he could prevail. Judge Sakamoto scheduled the hearing for Jan. 13. In an interview with me on SiriusXM Progress, McDermott said he believes he will win and said he believes he didn’t prevail the first time around because his lawyer wasn’t qualified.

McDermott on his efforts to overturn Hawaii's gay marriage law:

“I had a wonderful attorney, a brilliant guy,” he said. “But he wasn’t a constitutional attorney. He was a real estate attorney. A great guy, a real estate attorney, but not a constitutional expert. We’re saying [to the judge] 'Your honor, you made a mistake.’”

And what will happen to all those gay and lesbian couples who will have been married already if he prevails?

Responded McDermott: “I warned the attorney general, and I asked again to stay the marriages. I said, 'Please don’t do this'. Let the people make the decision. This is a major societal change. If the people want that, let the people make that decision.”

Before discussing why he is so determined to stop marriage equality in Hawaii, even now that it is well underway, McDermott said he wanted to relay a story.

“Thirty years ago, my wife and I took in her cousin, who had no place to go and he was a transvestite,” he recounted. “I guess the term today is transgender…And [my wife is] Samoan and in the Samoan culture that’s not unusual.”

What was the point of bringing that up?

“I want to innoculate myself so I’m not called a bigot, a hater, a homophobe, or ignorant, because I’ve gotten a lot of that lately," he said. "In 2000, I had an openly male homosexual work for me on my staff. This last legislative session I was the only one in the building who had an openly male homosexual who was HIV positive working for him. This poor guy, he’s a friend of mine.”

Why wouldn’t McDermott want his friend to get married and be happy and have rights?

“Well, you’re talking about redefining marriage.”

But what about simply allowing gay people to be a part of marriage as it is already defined?

"Well, see, I disagree. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”

What about those who see the argument similarly to laws that banned interracial couples from marrying?


“I see where you want to take me. But I’m in an interracial marriage. And I can assure you the equipment is different ... Among young healthy adults the possibility of children is very real and quite often happens.”

What if heterosexual couples don’t want to have children, or how about older straight couples who can’t have children? Should they not be allowed to marry?

“I said young healthy adults...The state’s compelling interest in marriage is for the welfare and care of the children...That’s the reason the state got involved in marriage ... Homosexual couples cannot create children. It’s impossible."

McDermott on his use of the word 'homosexual':

Why does he always use the word "homosexual" in this discussion, a clinical word?

“You want me to say 'gay'? Well, homosexual behavior encompasses both lesbians and male homosexuals. You can call it whatever you want. You guys don’t like it because you have an agenda. You want to destab--legitimize, that’s the first issue, and that’s through marriage ... I just use the appropriate term. That’s all. See, this is the dictates of the PC police. People on my side have gotten so beaten down. And they fear being pilloried and demonized.”

Also on HuffPost:

Gay Marriage In The United States

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