With more time to digest the commentary and the events that took place last Thursday (February 13, 2014), this second part provides an opportunity to delve into some subtopics related to the fight over HB1624.
After the gavel sounded to end the floor session for the day, all eyes turned to the far corner of the House of Representatives floor where House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke is seated. Even from the “cheap seats” of the gallery, Luke could be seen gesticulating threateningly at other representatives who voted to recall HB1624 from the House Judiciary Committee. It did not take an expert lip reader to see that the accompanying remarks were equally menacing.
If there were any individuals or representatives within an earshot of Luke, this blog would be interested in knowing why Luke was so upset by a motion to empower a minority voice that is being oppressed by the Legislature.
The New Minority Caucus
Based on the debate surrounding the hearing, it gives the clear impression that the new minority is not a matter of Democrats or Republicans, but a matter of liberals/progressives and moderate/conservatives. A better look at the results of the votes clearly highlights this trend. As people of faith move forward into the next elections, they must consider that their friends in the Legislature are both red and blue.
In fact, if the floor speeches are any indication, Rep. Bob McDermott is the minority leader in the House of Representatives and is supported by representatives from both sides of the aisle. Representatives willing to speak out included Rep. Richard Fale (R), Rep. Marcus Oshiro (D), Rep. Gene Ward (R) and Rep. Jo Jordan (D).
Finally, closer examination of the votes shows that Rep. Justin Woodson voted against people of faith having a voice in government after previously voting against SB1. Charting a similar course change, Speaker Emeritus Calvin Say voted supported people of faith by voting to keep HB1624 alive.
While the House of Representatives is informally known as “the People’s House”, the welcome mat was rolled up by liberal Democrats — remarks and floor speeches during the 2nd and 3rd readings in the House of Representatives focused on empowering minority voices at the Legislature. It is clear that this privilege did not extend to people of faith. Liberal democrats demonstrated their indifference to the persecution that people of faith suffer constantly by offering no explanation as to why the religious minority was any different than other oppressed minorities that liberal Democrats sought to empower via their agenda.
During floor debate to recall HB1624, frequent references were made to the “scabs of HB1624”. Observers noted that this was a reference to the healing that was supposed to take place after the 2013 special session on same-sex marriage. Moderate and conservative representatives questioned the reference, noting that while supporters of same-sex marriage have started their healing, people of faith continue to bleed. Rep. Richard Fale compared the Legislature’s treatment of people of faith to a boxer who had their teeth kicked in after being knocked down to the mat. A quick look back at the opening remarks at the start of the 2014 Legislative Session reiterate the call for “healing” from the 2013 Special Session:
“And so now it is time to put all of that behind us and to move forward. More importantly, we need to help our people heal in the spirit of aloha and ohana that has always guided this community.”
Floor debate shows a religious minority that is still wounded by the Legislature’s indifference to people of faith. Furthermore, it seems that “healing” is intended for only minorities that are privileged by liberal/progressive Democrats. Shortly before being killed via a motion to recommit, Rep. Karl Rhoads justified the actions of the Legislature by stating that proxy debate took place via several floor amendments during the special session while failing to address that the public still has not had a chance to comment on the religious protections contained in HB1624 or other related legislation.
Based on the hearing notices from both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the rights of the religious minority are not a priority. Floor debate further shows a Legislature that offers little explanation for its actions.