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by Jessica Coolsby, staff writer


The year was 2006. I was attending junior college on softball scholarship in a community in the Deep South. I won’t say where, to avoid stereotyping. I sat in Ethics class next to one of my teammates, awaiting the day’s open discussion on the current chapter: “Homosexuality.” It was a topic I could have argued to a post; one I felt I needed to say my piece on to defend some of my teammates—including the one next to me.
The teacher opened the floor for discussion, and immediately, two of the class’s girls launched a verbal assault on homosexuality. “Homosexuals will burn in hell for all eternity! It goes against God’s will,” one said.
“ It’s disgusting and wrong, and all gays are sinners,” the other chimed in, all the while staring a hole into the side of my teammate’s head, which was buried between her hands on the desk as she tried to hold back her tears. I’d had enough.
Now, let me first say, I am a Christian woman, married to a Catholic man, and raised in a Christian household. I attend church (though not regularly), pray every night, and read the Bible often. I know what it says, so don’t bother quoting it to me. That being said, I laid into those girls with the full fury of Jaws at New Hampton Beach on the first day of summer.
“ Now, girls, you attend church regularly, I assume?” I asked, rising from my chair.
“ Of course we do,” they said, smugly. “Well, does your minister not teach of the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you’?” They fell silent.
“ And further,” I prodded, “aren’t we taught as Christians, ‘Love thy neighbor as you love thyself’?”
I decided to finish with a hard hit: “I just have faith, ladies, that my God is a forgiving and understanding God; that He, who is loving and kind, would not sentence a person to an eternity in Hell for merely sharing their love with a person of the same sex. Someone who could have done little or no wrong; who was kind and generous throughout his or her life—damned forever to fry in fire and brimstone for a love he or she couldn’t suppress? I don’t think so.”
You could have heard a pin drop. I changed a few minds that day… or at least made them think.
Now, in spite of efforts like mine (and stronger) throughout the United States, homosexuals continue to face prejudice like other minorities before them. However, light is emerging from the darkness.
The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality, praised Hawai‘i’s House of Representatives Feb. 13 for passing a civil unions bill by a 33-17 vote.
The bill now moves to the state Senate where, if passed, it will permit gay and lesbian couples to enter into civil unions and receive the benefits, protections, and responsibilities, under Hawai‘i law, that are granted to spouses.
Unfortunately, even if the legislation passes the Hawai‘i Senate and is enacted into law, couples who enter into a civil union will still not receive any rights or benefits under federal law.
Now tell me, why is the state willing to recognize civil unions but our country refuses to grant these couples the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples? It baffles me that in a day and age in which a woman almost became president, and a black man did, people still can’t get past their prejudices and just live and let live… and let love!
The so-called “battle against homosexuality” that has been raging for decades in our culture has got to stop. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders—all eat, breathe, love, and hurt like heterosexuals do. And these people are in pain because they are currently refused even the simplest of things, such as the right to be the next of kin listed for emergencies and hospital visits.
They are people like us, and they will continue to suffer unless that injustice is corrected.
As HPU’s Dr. Larry LeDoux, assistant professor of communication, pointed out in a recent class, “People of faith who oppose civil unions forget that they are arguing for prejudice and against justice, and that they are trying to make into law their religious views, which they would thus impose on the rest of us in clear violation of the very Constitution that guarantees they can hold those views.”
Currently, Hawai‘i does not allow gay or lesbian couples to marry. Hawai‘i law currently permits couples prohibited from marrying under Hawai‘i law to enter into reciprocal beneficiary relationships and receive limited rights and benefits, though not all rights provided to married couples under state law.
If the problem here is that those opposed don’t want homosexuals to be allowed to “be wed in holy matrimony” due to religious stipulations, then change the name of it. Call it what we’ve been calling it: a civil union.
Currently 10 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for homosexual couples. Massachusetts and Connecticut recognize marriage for gay and lesbian couples under state law. Five other states—California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. provide gay and lesbian couples with access to the state-level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships. Hooray for them!
Maine and Washington provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits, not all rights provided to married couples. New York recognizes marriages by homosexual couples validly entered into outside of New York.
Unfortunately, gay and lesbian couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state… currently. Together, we can change this. To learn more about state by state legislation visit www.hrc.org/state_laws.




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