October 2, 1996

Election Results From Hawaii's September 21 Primary

For the two weeks prior to the primary election, there was daily news coverage of the controversial marriage trial.  Moreover, Deputy Attorney General Rick Eichor fed foolish, dangerous and unsubstantiated quotations to the press such as "incest is next", which was the evening home edition headline for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on the Friday night before the Saturday primary election.  [The Hawaii Supreme Court has already addressed the "incest, polygamy, and prostitution is next" fear in a footnote in their landmark 1993 ruling.]

Despite all that, the primary election was a draw.  The leader of the anti-same-gender marriage forces in the Senate, Milton Holt, went down to resounding defeat at the hands of Suzanne Chun Oakland.  Challenger Oakland, while in the House, had voted against the constitutional amendment which would have defined marriage as exclusively heterosexual.

On the other hand, the leader in the Senate for doing SOMETHING positive for gays and lesbians, Senator Rey Graulty, was also resoundingly defeated.  Senator Graulty had taken a high profile stand in favor of domestic partnerships in the Senate, as a step toward legal recognition of same gender relations.  He pushed through a Senate DP bill, 14 to 10, which then died in the House Judiciary Committee.  For these, and other worthy causes, he was rejected by the voters.  In Hawaii at least, the religious extremists are even more allergic to DP than they are to marriage ("it's just marriage by another name").

Rep. Billy Swain of Kauai was also defeated, by Mina Morita.  Billy views homosexuality as equivalent to murder.  Mina is more reasonable.

Two leaders, one on each side of the marriage issue, had close calls.  Terrance Tom, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and champion of the constitutional amendment to restrict marriage to heterosexuals, survived a primary challenge by only 54 votes.  Senate President Norman Mizuguchi, ally of Rey Graulty, won by "only" 5 per cent.

The basic lesson seems to be that the enemies of same-gender marriage, organized as the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, is often impotent:  many of the Senators that it targeted survived handily and their great champion Milton Holt was defeated.

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