By Derrick DePledge
Hawaii Republicans are using the special session on marriage equality as an organizing tool for the 2014 elections.
A message Thursday from Kayla Berube, the state GOP's executive director, described the special session as a "broken process that ignores the voices of our local residents."
Six of the seven state House Republicans and the lone state Senate Republican voted against the marriage equality bill.
Yesterday the Governor signed SB1 into law and the Democrat-controlled legislature wrapped up the special session, leaving many of our members are wondering, "What's next?"
What Hawaii witnessed at the Capitol over the past two weeks - a broken process that ignores the voices of our local residents - was a direct result of a Democrat super majority. Like this issue, there will be other issues in the future that the legislature will decide regardless of the will of the people. We deserve better from our government.
Regardless of where you stood on this issue, we all agree on one thing: we need to restore balance to our government. We need to bring the power back to the people. We need to make our voices heard.
That's why the Hawaii Republican Party is doubling down on establishing a permanent grassroots infrastructure, to respond to legislative issues with effective action and to support our Republican candidates across the state so we can win. The HRP will be hosting a series of training and informational meetings over the next several weeks for activists like yourself who are looking to make a difference here in Hawaii.
But the extraordinary special session on marriage equality has privately forced lawmakers from both political parties to confront some of their rhetoric about what exactly constitutes "public opinion" and a "fair process."
The thousands of people who turned out to oppose gay marriage only represented a fraction of Hawaii's voters. Yet the protestors at the state Capitol were far larger in number -- and far more demographically representative of Hawaii -- than the activists who showed up to demand GMO-labeling or the coalition that killed the state Public Land Development Corp. Many Democratic lawmakers, however, had claimed that the "public" had clearly spoken on GMOs and the PLDC.
On the other side, Republican lawmakers did not complain about a rushed or broken process in 2007 when then-Gov. Linda Lingle and state House and Senate leaders called a special session to try to save the Hawaii Superferry. At that time, many of the people who came to the state Capitol appealed to lawmakers not to undermine the environmental review process by giving Superferry a break. The law that was passed in that special session -- with no Republican in opposition -- was later overturned by the state Supreme Court as unconstitutional because it was unfairly tailored for a single company.