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:
New York lawmakers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/24/new-york-gay-marriage_n_907901.html" target="_blank">legalized same-sex marriage on July 24, 2011</a>, making it the largest state at the time to pass such legislation.
Voters in Maryland <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/gay-marriage-victory_n_2085900.html" target="_blank">approved marriage equality in the November 2012 election</a>. Initially, the gay marriage bill was signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on March 1, 2012, but opponents gathered enough signatures to force the issue back onto the ballot. With the passing of marriage equality, same-sex marriage <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/31/maryland-gay-marriage_n_2389044.html" target="_blank">ceremonies began on Jan. 1, 2013</a>.
Connecticut's Supreme Court <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/10/connecticut-gay-marriage_n_133605.html" target="_blank">ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry on Nov. 12, 2008</a>, making it the third state in the nation to do achieve marriage equality.
Iowa's Supreme Court <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/03/iowa-gay-marriage-ban-rul_n_182782.html" target="_blank">ruled the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional</a> on April 3, 2009.
Maine <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/gay-marriage-victory_n_2085900.html" target="_blank">made history in the November 2012 election</a> when it became the first state to pass marriage equality on the ballot. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, "Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage." Just three years ago, a popular vote overturned legislation that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state.
Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-legal-same-sex-marriage-performed-in-massachusetts" target="_blank"> legalize same-sex marriage on May 17, 2004</a>. The state's Supreme Court initially found the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional on Nov. 18, 2003.
Same-sex couples were able to <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-6042937.html" target="_blank">begin seeking marriage licenses</a> on Jan. 1, 2010.
Vermont, which invented civil unions, became <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/07/vermont-legalizes-gay-mar_n_184034.html" target="_blank">the first state to legalize gay marriage through a legislature's vote</a> -- overriding the governor's veto. Same-sex couples were able to begin marrying on Sept, 1, 2009.
Gay couples were able to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/01/gay-marriage-dc-council-p_n_375435.html" target="_blank">begin marrying in the nation's capital</a> on March 9, 2010.
The state initially began conducting gay marriages on June 16, 2008. On November 5, 2008, however, California <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/proposition-8-timeline_n_3503512.html" target="_blank">voters passed Proposition 8</a>, which amended the state's constitution to declare marriage as only between a man and a woman. On June 26, 2013, by a 5-4 vote, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/hollingsworth-v-perry-ruling_n_3438269.html" target="_blank">the Supreme Court justices held in Hollingsworth v. Perry</a> that the traditional marriage activists who put Proposition 8 on California ballots in 2008 did not have the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts after the state refused to appeal its loss at trial, opening the door for marriages to resume in the state.
On February 13, 2012, Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/washington-gay-marriage-signed-chris-gregoire_n_1273887.html" target="_blank">signed a law allowing same-sex marriage ceremonies</a> to begin on June 7, 2012. The process was delayed by gay marriage opponents who gathered enough signatures to put the issue up to a state vote in November 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/09/washington-gay-marriage-law_n_2266574.html" target="_blank">Gay marriage passed on November 7, 2012.</a> The official determination for Washington did not come until one day after the election because of the state's mail-in voting system.
Gay marriage came to Rhode Island when Governor Lincoln Chafee <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/gay-marriage-minnesota-rhode-island_n_3686034.html" target="_blank">signed the marriage equality bill</a> into law on May 2, 2013.
Delaware obtained gay marriage when <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/delaware-gay-marriage-law-_n_3232771.html" target="_blank">Governor Jack Markell signed the marriage equality bill it into law</a> on May 7, 2013.
Minnesota same-sex couples achieved marriage equality when Gov. Mark Dayton signed the legislation into law <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/minnesota-gay-marriage-legal-_n_3275484.html" target="_blank">on May 14, 2013</a>.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/20/cory-booker-same-sex-marriage_n_4134116.html?&ir=Gay%20Voices&utm_hp_ref=gay-voices" target="_blank">began marrying same-sex couples</a> at City Hall at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2013.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed same-sex marriage into law on Nov. 13, 2013, making it the 15th state to pass such legislation.
Illinois became the 16th state to legalize gay marriage, with the House <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/illinois-gay-marriage_n_4220793.html" target="_blank">having passed the bill on Nov. 5</a>. and Gov. Pat Quinn signing the legislation on Nov. 20.
On Dec. 19, the New Mexico Supreme Court <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/new-mexico-gay-marriage_n_4474507.html?ir=Gay%20Voices" target="_blank">unanimously ruled</a> that same-sex marriage rights are protected under the Constitution.