Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Time To Overcome Intolerance in Hawaii" -- Testimony by Joe Wilson in Marriage Equality Special Session

"My Name Is Joe Wilson"

by Derrick DePledge - Nov. 5, 2013:

State House lawmakers conducting a marathon hearing on marriage equality have heard a sea of Christian voices who oppose gay marriage.

The few gay and lesbian voices who support marriage equality have stood out. One of them was Joe Wilson, a documentary filmmaker who lives on the North Shore of O‘ahu, who spoke late Monday:

During this special session, the people of Hawaii, and indeed the world, have been witness to the hell that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, māhū, and other people deemed unacceptable by self-righteous bullies know all too well.

You have seen us sit here while people speak about us in the most dehumanizing terms as though we were not present, as though such vile mischaracterizations as perverts, bug chasers, cross-dressers, and security threats do not affect or terrify us -- as though such heinous lies do not inflict wounds or tear our souls apart.

Having seen this, perhaps you now have an idea of what it might be like to be a young gay or gender non-conforming person in one of our schools terrorized by playground bullies who act this way.

Perhaps now you have an idea of what it might be like to grow up in a family that would create such an environment in its own home, forcing their own gay or gender creative children to suppress their most human of feelings, to torture themselves with guilt for who they are, to live a childhood void of true parental love, to feel that they have no choice but to take to the streets to survive, or worse, to take their own lives to end this hell.

Perhaps now you have some notion what it might be like to be a person who lost a job or apartment or was denied any number of opportunities most people take for granted because one of these loving individuals could not find it within themselves to be accepting or to understand that their personal beliefs do not now, nor will they ever, trump our right to live our lives as freely and openly -- and equally under the law -- as they live theirs.

Perhaps now you'll know what it's like to walk down the street looking over your shoulder, wondering if the person who just called you a faggot or māhū is going to turn and chase you down, punch or stab you because you are not welcome in their world.

If so, I hope you'll agree that it is time to overcome this intolerance, and to not just pass what should be a simple thing like marriage equality, but to end these harms that have been done in the name of religion, tradition, and state-sanctioned discrimination for far too long -- and to begin to make our communities whole again.

Please, do the right thing. Pass SB1.

Rep. Richard Fale, who opposes marriage equality, represents Wilson and his partner Dean Hamer, a geneticist, called Wilson back to the podium after his testimony to explain that, as a Tongan, Fale too has experienced discrimination.

Fale asked Wilson whether there are higher priorities for the state, such as child poverty, that might merit a special session.

"Do you think the governor should have put our children in poverty first?" the North Shore Republican asked.

"I resent that you are making this a circus," Wilson replied.

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