Political Radar


October 31st, 2013

Living up to a promise to hear everyone who wants to speak on marriage equality, the state House on Thursday embarked on a marathon hearing where thousands of people would each be given a two-minute platform to offer their opinions.

The House Judiciary Committee and the House Finance Committee took testimony late into the evening and House leaders made a commitment to extend the hearing into Friday and the weekend if necessary to hear all who had signed up to speak by midnight.

*Update: At midnight, after hearing testimony for 14 hours, Rep. Karl Rhoads, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the committees would continue to hear testimony past midnight.

Rep. Gene Ward loudly complained that lawmakers should recess until later Friday morning, drawing cheers from an audience dominated by opponents of gay marriage. Some supporters of marriage equality shouted at Ward that it was actually Friday now that midnight had passed.

Rep. Sylvia Luke, the chairmwoman of the House Finance Committee, explained to Ward that the committees wanted to hear from many of the people who had brought families to the Capitol and had been waiting for much of the day to speak.

*Update II: After a recess, Rhoads changed course and announced that the hearing would recess until 8:30 a.m. The chairman cited a news release that had stated that the House would end testimony at midnight and pick up again "tomorrow."

Rhoads and Luke reaffirmed their commitment to allow all of the 5,181 people who had signed up by the midnight deadline to testify. Rhoads said that as committee chairman last session he allowed two minutes for anyone who wanted to testify on bills.

Asked about a coordinated move by opponents of the bill to get people down to the Capitol to sign up -- which brought a few hundred people to the Capitol just before midnight in an effort to extend the hearing longer -- Rhoads told reporters: "It's an opportunity for people to make their opinions known. And I don't regret -- I think it's a positive thing that we are willing to spend the time necessary to hear what everybody has to say."

While House leaders made the promise to avoid claims that a marriage equality bill is being rushed in special session, it also has the practical effect of playing into the strategy of opponents of gay marriage who have said they want to slow the process down.

Any delay provides more time for opponents to pressure House lawmakers to either kill the bill or expand a religious exemption so broadly that it undermines support in the state Senate.

"We recognize that this issue is one of the most significant issues that we’ve dealt with in a long time,” said House Majority Leader Scott Saiki (D, Downtown-Kakaako-McCully). “And we know that the public has an opinion on this. It’s our responsibility to hear from the public.”

Late Thursday, House lawmakers who oppose the bill were urging followers through social media to come to the state Capitol to sign up to testify so the hearing could go longer.

From Rep. Richard Fale, via Twitter and Facebook:

Calling anyone near the Capitol, PLEASE COME DOWN BEFORE MIDNIGHT TO TESTIFY! If we don't have people speaking constantly through midnight, we won't be able to continue tomorrow and testimony will be over. Still enough time to come down from North Shore.

From Rep. Beth Fukumoto, via Twitter:

Hse Leaders may cut off testimony despite public expectation of a 2nd day. Come back to the Capitol! #iwanttransparency #HINews

4 Responses to “Marathon”

  1. Keith Rollman:

    I will give Rep. Rhoads credit for doing a better job than Senator Hee. Hee also promised that everybody who wanted to speak would be given a chance, but then cut off the sign up for testimony early and then limited people to one minute. They also had to be subjected to Hee's hostile questions and sarcasm.

    Rhoads had to be "reminded" what he had promised, but eventually honored his commitment. Clearly, they would have preferred to keep going into the wee hours in order to wrap up the hearing by cutting loose the thousands still signed up but no longer present. Thousands of people who drew high numbers in the order of testimony (1500 through 5000) rightly thought they would never be reached on Thursday before midnight and went home to get some sleep.

    Similar to Monday at the Senate hearings, most pro-SSM testifiers were gone after a couple of hours. The remaining testifiers, and there were thousands of them, were almost exclusively against the bill.

  2. Nala007:

    Sure Keith, that is because the New Hope and LDS cults are very good at getting their sheep to do exactly as they are told.

  3. innocent observer:

    while everyone has the right to be heard, but sometimes it is ridiculous as many of the testimony are redundant from both sides. many of the comments from the opponents are "what if" and hypotheticals. answering these question are not constructive since no one can predict the future. any bill cannot be crafted "full-proof" the first time around. as in any controversial legislation because it affects many, they will likely be challenges, that is the time to resolve them, via the courts or future legislative amendments. sure it might be costly but that is the process. anyone can bring forth a suit at anytime, but a suit might not be necessary if the problem can be resolved legislatively. believe SB 1 as crafted it the best for now. to expand the exemptions would only reduce the effectiveness of the public accommodations law and create more inequities, encouraging more suits. the public accommodations law was enacted to prohibit discrimination - to allow people to use religious beliefs to deny anyone will make a mockery of this law.

  4. Especially Incognito:

    One wants the right to marry should show
    their birth certificate. If not born and raised
    in Hawaii, they should not be legal to marry in Hawaii.
    even lingle was not born or raised in Hawaii.

    26 miles of talk.

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