Political Radar

Bad news

November 14th, 2013

Attorneys for state Rep. Bob McDermott, a Republican who unsuccessfully challenged the state's new marriage equality law in court, turned to a few interesting experts to help make their case.

Joe Moore, a top-rated newscaster for KHON, and Michael W. Perry, a top-rated radio personality for KSSK, provided written declarations that were cited in court on Thursday.

Moore and Perry confirmed McDermott's account that voters were told that a 1998 constitutional amendment would give the state Legislature the power to reserve marriage to heterosexual couples only.

Other news media accounts at the time, however, chronicled the fact that the legislative intent behind the constitutional amendment was to give the Legislature -- and not the state Supreme Court -- the power to define marriage. The Supreme Court had ruled in 1993 that denying gay couples marriage licenses was a violation of equal protection under the state Constitution.

From Moore's declaration:

In the month leading up to the elections, the State sent out a Ballot Information Flyer to all Hawaii voters explaining the Ballot sheet, and we referred to that Ballot Information Flyer to determine how we would summarize the proposed Constitutional Amendments.

Question Number 2 on the ballot dealt with the issue of marriage in Hawaii, and the State explained that the Amendment would give the legislature the POWER TO RESERVE MARRIAGE TO OPPOSITE SEX COUPLES.

The State further explained that a "YES" vote on the ballot would give the legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite sex couples ONLY.

The Station's newsroom leaders decided that in addition to presenting the Amendment in that manner, we would also state in the Station's newscasts, in order to be absolutely clear, that Question Number 2 meant:


To clarify even further, we stated:


For a month leading up to the 1998 elections, and on Election night, when presenting the results of the voting, I and other members of the Station's news team used those descriptions when referring to the Constitutional Amendment Regarding Marriage.

From Perry:

My recollection is that the listeners were glad to finally be voting on this issue.

In my discussions with callers I would explain that a "Yes" vote would approve the Amendment, and that would:

a. Put a definitive end to the "legal wrangling" involved with "same-sex marriage," so that marriage in Hawaii would remain a relationship between a man and a woman;

b. End and trump the Court battles; and

c. Put this persistent issue "behind them once and for all."

State Attorney General David Louie, meanwhile, turned to an interesting expert of his own: state Rep. Gene Ward, a Republican who opposes gay marriage and called for another public vote before marriage equality became law.

In 1997, Ward had a different insight into what the 1998 constitutional amendment would do:

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago Judge Moon rightly said that we have the trump card in this particular discussion. This bill brings us to the day of playing that particular trump card.

What I believe he forgot to say was that it's the people of Hawaii that hold the trump card according to this bill and not those who wear black robes. Unfortunately, the way the bill is written, however, it's those who sit in these seats who will decide whether there is same-sex marriage in the future. The social order that this one relies upon are those who are in the Senate and the House to say as the words define the power to regulate marriage between opposite-sex couples. Not in the people's minds, but in the minds of those who are elected representatives.

23 Responses to “Bad news”

  1. Auto de Fe:

    The gay activists will now seek to remove Moore & Perry from the air.

  2. Keith Rollman:

    Pretty obvious to everyone that the people got conned on this one.

  3. Johnson:

    Mr. Rollman, if I may quote from Rep. Ward's floor speech from 1997, cited above: "...it's those who sit in these seats who will decide whether there is same-sex marriage in the future."

    And that's what happened.

  4. Especially Incognito:

    "This is a decision that should not be made by one person sitting in her office or by members of the Majority Party behind closed doors in a legislative caucus, but by all the people of Hawaii behind the curtain of the voting booth.

    As difficult as the past few weeks have been, I am comfortable with my decision while knowing full well that many will be disappointed by it."

    Governor Lingle’s HB444 Statement and this is what happened.

  5. Kolea:

    It has been amusing watching some anti-equality Republicans, and now some fake "news" figures, admit they misunderstood the meaning of the 1998 constitutional amendment. So because they were dumb and fed the public misinformation, the 1998 vote doesn't count? Or only "counts" if their MISUNDERSTANDING is substituted for the clear meaning of the words of the amendment and the bill which proposed it?

    Thank Gawd Rep. Ward was unable to keep his mouth shut at the time, determined to demonstrate how erudite he was in grasping the language of the ConAm. (How atypical for him!

    ; )

  6. ohiaforest3400:

    Sounds like Joe Moore and Mike Perry are the cons here. TV/Radio dumbing momentous decisions down to polarizing sound bites have contributed to an intellectually lazy and therefore uninformed electorate. If Gene Ward understood the proposed amendment, everybody should have been able to do so.

    As much as Rep. McDermott, Mr. Rollman, and the two media talking heads want to believe otherwise, the record is clear that the 1998 amendment did not define marriage as between opposite-sex couples. It allowed the legislature to so define marriage because the Hawaii Supreme Court said in Baehr v. Lewin that it did not then have that power. The amendment did not change the legislature's existing power to define marriage more broadly. Initially, the legislature did the former, now it has done the latter.

    I get that many people believe that marriage equality is bad social policy and that the issue should be put to a vote, not decided by the legislature. I disagree, but I respect their right to believe what they believe. And there is good news for them, too: because the 1998 amendment remains untouched, marriage equality opponents can come back to the legislature later and ask them to limit marriage once again, just as marriage equality proponents came back to the legislature to adopt marriage equality. Or, the opponents can seek to pass a constitutional amendment that directly defines marriage as between opposite-sex couples.

    But, if marriage equality is the bad social policy that opponents of believe it to be, they will have to actually prove it next time. They could not make their case after Baehr v. Lewin was remanded to the trial court for that purpose and none of the nightmare scenarios they have predicted will now occur here have occurred in jurisdictions in which marriage equality has taken hold. If marriage equality opponents do come back to the legislature, they will need to be armed with facts and figures, not just with religious condemnation wrapped in sound and fury.

  7. Keith Rollman:

    How could people possibly be so stupid as to misunderstand that:

    "...reserve marriage to opposite sex couples only." really meant: "...legalize gay marriage or whatever else we want."

    You guys have really cleared it up for me.

  8. PAB III:

    You can go on and on about this but the fact is it's over. Deal with it. Who cares what a newsroom full of reporters thought about this. Really, a news anchor is your expert witness. Joe don't know. Bless him but Joe don't know. Think about that.

    Is that bastion of liberal values, is the media, still viewed as a conservatives nightmare? You cant's have it both ways.

    There are a lot of very important issues in Hawaii as well in this country that need to be discussed and legislated. Wages are low. People are suffering. Ethnic discrimination. The government has been overtaken by lobbyists and special interest. Our food supply is unsafe and our water is polluted. Our children are hungry and lack the basic tools that will help to educate them. Many veterans, some elderly and those with mental illness are homeless and go without adequate medical care.
    What does this say about all of us?

    We are losing our capacity for compassion and our will to work for the common good.The most affluent society in the history of mankind and we are turning our backs on battles that have value to us all.Doesn't that shout "Somethings wrong." You are upset because people who love each other are getting married and ensuring that the are treated equally under the law? Honestly? How does and how much will this effect the opponents of this law? Civil liberties and equality for all, although important, are just 2 of them.

    If you don't care for representative government quit moaning about it and do something.

  9. zzzzzz:

    Remember the situation just prior to the election back in 1998. Court rulings had essentially made SS marriage legal, but courts didn't allow the state to issue marriage licenses to SS couples pending the election. The legislature had already passed a measure limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples, but measure was unconstitutional until the amendment passed. Once the amendment passed, the measure became legal, and marriage became limited to opposite-sex couples.

    So, at the time it was correct to say that passing the amendment would limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. That is exactly what happened.

  10. Especially Incognito:

    "Gawd". Sounds like lindsey graham talking.
    Both the same.

    "Sounds like Joe Moore and Mike Perry are the cons here."
    Both are transplants, too.

    Like those again, I say, think right or left
    cannot think straight. (carefree).

    Divorce of Same Sex is
    going to be another topic to debate. The right
    to marry does not have the wording on equal rights to divorce.
    You marry till death due you part. You want to divorce, it will
    be another debate. Wait for it.

  11. Especially Incognito:

    Missionaries showed no equality when
    they started preaching about "Gawd".
    Transplants, the same.

    Equality is just another racist word.
    There is no Civil Authority to define the meaning.

  12. ohiaforest3400:

    Great editing job, Mr. Rollman. Deny it all you want -- lie to yourself and everyone else -- but that sentence begins with the words "The legislature shall have the power . . . " It doesn't define marriage and it doesn't require the legislature to do so. But since you can't bring yourself to admit the truth, for whatever reason, I'll defer to PAB III and just say "It's over. Deal with it."

  13. jeff:

    moore & perry? might as well cite beavis & butthead.

  14. GeneTee:

    So much for being a "top-rated" newscaster/radio personality! lol Can't even read, eh?

  15. ohiaforest3400:

    And further, Mr. Rollman, do you not see the irony of your position in view of the same arguments made about the vote to amend the charter with respect to rail? Were the voters snookered on that one, too?

    PS: I support rail, and voted for the amendment, because of my experience with rail transit elsewhere but the execution of the concept here gives me pause, sort of like the sausage-making at the Capitol.

  16. nonpolitic:

    What Mr. Rollman fails to mention is that his current boss (Mr. McDermott), was sitting right next to Mr. Ward in 1997 when he made the floor speech in the House chamber stating the effect of the constitutional amendment. If his boss was so worried about the wording of the educational publication, he should have filed his TRO request back in 1998 to have the constitutional amendment description changed.

  17. Especially Incognito:


  18. Jim Loomis:

    I've been away. Has the sky fallen yet?

  19. KKawa:

    Legal Declarations from media personalities? Bizarre and
    embarrassing for all involved. I'm sure the judge and his clerks got a few good laughs in chambers on this one.

  20. Jan Farrant:

    If the two men mentioned in the above story are still against same sex marriage, I guess I'll have to DC
    KHON. Joe Moore how the hell can you really care who marries who? Are you one of the Bible pounders who don't use their own brains but just do as told. Straight Jan here and I have many wonderful gay and lesbian friends. They are just like you and I and everyone else. We should each live our own lives as we want to live our lives. How does a marriage between to gay people affect your life or mine? Please let me know....
    I always thought that you were an open minded, intelligent person. Guess I was wrong.

    Straight Jan

  21. Wm. Mahoney:

    reference: Wm. Shakespeare- "Much Ado About Nothing". Mikevis and ButtMoore et al, House/Senate, Repubs and Chrisrights...wake up kids, this is the 21st Century. get with the program or be left behind. btw, Mahalo "jeff" for the apropos comparisons to Beavis and Butthead! hilarious and dead center on the mark!

  22. Terry:

    You guys get over it. Start protecting your own family values in your own familes.

  23. Especially Incognito:

    The cliff is getting closer
    and the lemmings should
    worry about jumping over.

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