By Derrick DePledge
Five state House lawmakers who either oppose or are undecided on gay marriage are planning informational briefings on the Neighbor Islands and Oahu before a special session opens on Oct. 28.
The lawmakers say the briefings are in response House Speaker Joseph Souki's decision not to schedule gay marriage hearings on the Neighbor Islands.
The briefings would culminate in an event on Oahu next Wednesday evening at the state Capitol.
Reps. Gene Ward, Marcus Oshiro, Bob McDermott, Sharon Har and Richard Fale are organizing the briefings. Ward, McDermott, Har and Fale are opposed to gay marriage. Oshiro says he is undecided but has urged lawmakers not to act in special session.
Oshiro and Har are majority Democrats. Ward, McDermott and Fale are minority Republicans.
An aide to Ward forwarded an invitation to other House lawmakers on Tuesday evening:
Aloha House Colleagues,
Last week Speaker Souki noted that the House of Representatives would not be holding any public hearings on the Neighbor Islands or elsewhere prior to the Special Session, (See Star-Advertiser, October 11, 2013). When the Special Session begins October 28th public input will be limited to a single hearing in the State Capitol Auditorium, likely on Monday afternoon on the day the session begins.
Given the curtailment of neighbor island input, plus the limitation of the Special Session to just 5 days, plus the extremely limited amount of time that will be allowed for persons to testify on Oahu (likely 1 minute each for hundreds of people in the Capitol Auditorium) it may be necessary for us to consider a few alternatives to this approach which appears to be extremely inflexible and very rushed. The people of Hawaii deserve to be heard, and Hawaii's House members owe them time and respect to be listened to before the Special Session.
With this in mind, the under-signed Representatives in the Hawaii State House are prepared to hold `Informational Briefings' on the Neighbor Islands beginning with the Big Island and moving to Maui, and then ending on Kauai and Oahu. The Informational Briefings will invite experts on both sides of the issue of same-gender marriage and then hear testimony from the public. It is anticipated that these hearings will be filmed and participating legislators will pose questions to those giving testimony.
If these Informational Briefings are of interest to you, you can participate in two ways: 1) sign on as a member of the Special Session Informational Briefing Panel; or 2) you may simply attend a hearing and be given the opportunity to join legislators at the front table. Most all of the Neighbor Island reps have been personally invited. We anticipate the Informational Briefings will begin next week in Hilo, and Kailua-Kona.
There are no over-nights stays planned and each representative's legislative allowance will be used to fund travel expenses. Following the hearings on the Big Island, we will proceed to Maui and Kauai culminating with an Oahu information briefing on Wednesday, October 23 at 6 pm in at the State Capitol, Room 329.
Please let us know if you would like to join this effort by contacting one of the representatives below by COB Friday, October 18, 2013. Details of site locations and times will be shortly announced and sent to you as you respond.