“We are the Aloha State . . . and Aloha means love . . . and this bill is all about love”
On November 8, 2013, Hawaii State Rep. K. Mark Takai (D-Aiea) voted YES on Senate Bill 1, House Draft 1. Takai spoke in support of Marriage Equality in Hawaii. Here is his speech:
I want to first acknowledge the thousands of people who have contacted our office, both in favor and against this bill. People have visited our offices, some have written or called, and many have emailed. As of last night, approximately 7,300 have contacted our office in support and 6,200 have contacted our office opposed.
I thank everyone who has contacted me and I thank them all for participating in the legislative process. Although I couldn’t respond to every single person who contacted me, I hope that my words today help them understand my thoughts and my decision on this bill.
My first day on this job was Nov. 8, 1994 – exactly 19 years ago today. I mention this, because like today, this issue was front and center in 1994.
Many of the concerns raised by opponents are the same as in the 1990s.
But times change, people change and I’ve changed.
In a year, I will be a former member of this House. I have chosen to leave after 20 great years.
Some people have accused me of voting in support of this bill because of my desires to be the next congressman from Hawaii. Nothing can be further from the truth.
I’m voting YES because it is the right thing to do.
Since the ruling earlier this summer by the U.S. Supreme Court on Article III of the Defense of Marriage Act, this issue has had wide-spread attention in Hawaii and throughout the nation.
I have served alongside gays and lesbians as a member of the Hawaii National Guard. The Servicemembers who I have worked with during my 14-years in the National Guard have underscored the importance of treating everyone fairly.
Our LGBT veterans love this country as much as I do. They fought and some have died for our country. When I was deployed to the Middle East in 2009, the military and our military family took care of my family – my wife and our two kids. Deployments are stressful and couples in the military – no matter if they are straight or gay – need this support.
I’m pleased with the leadership taken by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“It is now the Department’s policy to treat all married military personnel equally . The Department will work to make the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages,” wrote Hagel.
Legal federal benefits are being provided to same-sex military families in Hawaii now! This bill will provide the same benefits to our local same-sex families as our military same-sex families are already receiving.
My YES vote for this bill is a vote for love, equality, and fairness.
Actually, the truth is that there have been very hurtful words said about me by some of those I have respected. Some have questioned my motives. Some have threatened to abandon me. I’ve had numerous church bulletins singling me out. I’ve had not one, but two brochures mailed into our community from the First Assembly of God and New Hope Leeward.
But despite these hateful and negative tactics, I’m at peace. I made my final decision on this bill after speaking with Sami, my wife, who thanked me for this vote.
In my 19 years in the House, my wife hasn’t said a word about any of my previous votes. But for this vote, definitely one of the most challenging, this vote means a lot to her and it means a lot to me.
I’m at peace and I’m in a good place, because I know my YES vote today is righteous and pono. This is my chance to make the correct choice and do the right thing. I will not have another chance here on this floor to vote YES. And 20 years from now, I want to look back on my legislative career with no regrets.
There are many who say that they are opposing this bill because of their religion. They cite the separation of church and state.
However, there are many religions and there are many pastors who support this bill.
I support this bill because of the separation of church and state.
If you and your church do not support marriage equality, then you are not forced to marry same-sex couples. You will not be forced have gay weddings at your church.
But this bill gives churches that embrace all couples – no matter their gender persuasion – gay, lesbian or straight . . . this bill gives these loving, committed couples the right to marry in churches that welcome them.
Why can’t couples who care so much for each other have the same, wonderful marriage that I have?
Why can’t churches that love these couples and that want to marry these couple do so?
The essence of our islands is captured in Hawaii State law. The “Aloha Spirit” is defined by state law.
“The Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. . . Aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence,” according to HRS 5-7.5.
In my mind and the deepest fibers of my heart, I believe it is time that our laws reflect the Aloha Spirit.
We are the Aloha State . . . and Aloha means love . . . and this bill is all about love.
I support loving, committed relationships.
It is my heartfelt honor and privilege that for Marriage Equality in Hawaii, I vote YES.