Letters 10-16-13


Gay marriage should be supported by all

A colleague of mine asked me why the Hawaii State Teachers Association made a statement recently supporting marriage equality. She said she has heard people will quit their membership over this. Though I am no longer on the board, I can only guess at what the debate may have been.

First of all, I know that the National Education Association, our parent national union, is at its core, all about social justice. The roots of the NEA are intertwined with civil rights history, including the abolition of slavery, gender equality and racial equality. One of their strongest departments is the Human and Civil Rights departments. As a national organization, it is not surprising that they be on the forefront of pushing for equality for all. As a union, we find resonance with the Industrial Workers of the World quote, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

But going from the big picture to the small, from the abstract to the concrete, we know that our membership, like any cross-section of society, includes people who happen to love members of their own gender. These are my colleagues, these are my friends, my very dear friends. When it comes down to that — away from what is being said at the pulpit or conservative media — how can you not want your friends to have the same rights as you have?

I don’t know what their argument is. I am a die-hard liberal, a progressive Christian and perhaps as set in my ways as they are. It is an effort for me to see it from their point of view. Could it be the same argument that was put forward by those who advocated for slavery way back when, that the slaves were not to be considered human, so they did not deserve human rights? Or those who tried to keep women and nonwhites from achieving voting rights, that women and nonwhites did not have the capacity to vote intelligently, and so it would not serve society to give them the right to vote? Or those who thought a woman’s place was in the home and if granted equal rights, the fabric of society, the home, would be destroyed? I can imagine that it is along those lines — something about the fabric of society and the decline of civilization.

But once you know and love a gay person, how in the world is it possible to maintain those beliefs about them? How can you not want them to have equal rights? How can you not want them to marry a person they love and want to be committed to for their lifetime? More love will make the world more loving, a better place. In this world of petty politics, of abuse and hatred of all kinds, let there be love.

Diane Aoki

Kealakekua