Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle Informs Gay Rights Activists They're Second-Class Citizens
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 10:59:37 AM EST
"Why is it that the people who came to the Capitol building in support of the gay community and HB444 were required to obtain a Special Use Permit and proof of liability insurance in order to participate in a rally, but the pastors, church members, and those rallying against the civil rights legislation were not similarly required to obtain the necessary permits? And, why is it that certain people were invited to a special prayer meeting inside the Governorís office, but others were excluded?" - Hawaii activist Carroll Cox

As she announced her veto of Hawaii's Civil Unions Bill HB444 on July 6th, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle echoed a standard argument traditionally advanced by leaders of the Christian right, that the issue of the civil rights of minority groups was so important that it should not be decided by an executive decision but, rather, by popular vote. It was a strange argument for a Jewish politician given the use of the democratic legislative process in pre-World War Two Germany to strip German-Jewish citizens of basic rights. But it also was the height of hypocrisy because that day, prior to announcing her veto, Lingle had sent a clear message of her executive decision: supporters of the civil union bill gathered at the Hawaii State House that day were second class citizens and Lingle was more than happy to use the power of the state to enforce the point.

The next day, Lingle appeared on a local Hawaii AM radio talk show and compared same-sex marriage to incest, displaying startling ignorance of the fact, as a listener who called in to the show pointed out, that first-cousin marriages are legal in the Aloha State. The gaffe caught some media attention but what Carroll Cox reports is more appalling by several magnitudes.

Hawaiian political and environmental activist, and radio talk show host Carroll Cox, an African-American man who grew up in the deep South, in Mississippi, during Segregation and spent his career working as a federal agent, is not easily flustered. But when he called me up late last week to describe Linda Lingle's blatantly discriminatory favoritism, I could tell Cox was quietly outraged which is not surprising - what he described was patently outrageous.

A story on Cox's web site (you can also listen to Carroll Cox's description, in this one-hour segment of his radio show) substantiated by audio recording and pictures Cox took during the event, details Lingle's blatant prejudice against the pro-Civil Union protesters that could only have been on uglier display had she ordered her Sheriff's Department to drive them back with fire hoses and police dogs.

Lingle required pro-HB444 demonstrators to obtain both a special use permit and liability insurance to gather at the State House but imposed no such conditions on anti-HB444 forces, who gathered without a permit or insurance and usurped space in the State House designated, on their permit, for pro-HB444 demonstrators.

It gets worse. Lingle's sheriffs blocked pro-civil union protesters from going upstairs past the first floor of the State House but allowed the non-permitted anti-HB444 conservative evangelical Christians to filter up to the 5th floor, where they proceeded to chant and blow rams' horns  for hours prior to Lingle's veto announcement.

To top it all off, immediately prior to her announcement Lingle invited a select group of anti-HB444 pastors into her governor's office for a special prayer. Carroll Cox says his request to be let in for the prayer was denied.

One of the evangelical Christians allowed in was Francis Oda, founder of the Hawaii Family Forum that's associated with James Dobson's Colorado Springs based Focus on the Family mega-ministry. Last September 2009 at the Family Research Council's yearly  "Voter Values Summit" Focus on The Family Action (FoF's spinoff political action committee) Senior Vice President Tom Minnery presented Hawaii Family Forum Executive Director Dennis Arakaki with a special "Family Champions" award for Arakaki's tireless efforts at blocking same-sex couples from obtaining the same legal rights as opposite sex couples in Hawaii.

The Hawaii Family Forum's recent heavy lobbying against civil unions may have undermined the nonprofit group's tax-exempt status however -  both an independent Hawaii attorney and Hawaii Citizens For The Separation of Church and State have filed complaints with the Internal Revenue Service over the group's extensive lobbying activity. The Hawaii Family Forum receives substantial funding for its lobbying efforts from Colorado-based Focus On The Family Action.  

Although Focus on The Family (the 501(c)(3) nonprofit which spun off Focus On The Family Action, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit) officially tries to hew to the semi-official conservative evangelical stance of rejecting homosexuality but loving homosexuals, a distinctly ugly face to the FoF agenda was on display during a mid-1990's secret strategy conference.

In 1994 Mike Shaver, writing for Freedom Watch, infiltrated and recorded a major national conference of anti-gay activists sponsored by Colorado-for Family Values (CFV) - "a closed-door, invitation-only conference for nearly 40 national organizations committed to "roll[ing] back the militant gay agenda." "

As Shaver observed in his July/August 1994 Freedom Watch story, "if audio- taped portions of the proceedings are any indication, once the cameras are gone, anti-gay forces emphasize very different themes than those touted in public."

The top-secret conference had the participation, according to Shaver's report, of many of the most well known organizations of the Christian right including "Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, Christian Coalition, Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition, Eagle Forum and the American Family Association."

"Anti-gay heavyweights" at the conference included John Eldredge, Focus On The Family's Director of Seminars and Research and architect of FOF's Community Impact Seminars, Paul Cameron, Peter LaBarbera, and Judith Reisman. Speaking at the conference, Eldredge  emphasized the need for public relations gloss, but then proceeded to demonize the gay rights movement as ultimate evil:

"To the extent we can control our public image, we must never appear to be bigoted or mean-spirited. And you noticed the qualification--- to the extent we can control our public image. We must never APPEAR to be attempting to rob anyone of their rights, of their constitutional rights...

...I think the gay agenda, and I would not say this as frankly as I will now in other cultural contexts, I think the gay agenda has all the elements of that which is truly evil. It is deceptive at every turn...it is destroying the souls and the lives of those who embrace it, and it has a corrosive effect on the society which endorses it, either explicitly or even implicitly."

While the agenda within the United States, as described in Shaver's report, seemed to include stripping gays of basic human rights, outside of the US things recently have gone even farther.

Hawaii Family Forum Founder Francis Oda is also Chairman of the International Transformation Network which, as I've chronicled in my 20 minute documentary Transforming Uganda, has played a significant role in the internationally condemned  so-called "Kill the gays bill" before Uganda's parliament. In a December 2009 conference outside of Honolulu, both Francis Oda and ITN's CEO Ed Silvoso blessed and anointed Hawaii's Lt Governor James "Duke" Aiona, who is running for the governor's seat in 2010.

The ITN has organizing efforts underway across the globe including in Newark, New Jersey, where the Pray For Newark effort claims to field up to 1,000 church volunteers, organized by city ward, who walk the streets of Newark.

As I describe in my two-part series Transforming Hawaii, Duke Aiona has extensive ties to the International Transformation Network, and Ed Silvoso has declared that both Aiona and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, running against Aiona in the 2010 election, are under his sway, and a 2008 letter in Silvoso's names states that Moanalua Gardens Church pastor Cal Chinen, also a leader in Silvoso's International Transformation Network, is "shepherding" both Aiona and Hannemann. Not surprisingly, both have declared their opposition to same-sex marriage and civil unions.

But Linda Lingle's ties to the evangelical right in Hawaii are notable too.

In May 2008 both Duke Aiona, Mufi Hannemann, Linda Lingle, and Hawaii state Senator Norman Sakamoto could be found together at an event honoring the church-growth efforts of Dan Chun,  pastor of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-affiliated Church of Honolulu and founder of Hawaiian Island Ministries (HIM), which works with the Hawaii Family Forum.

Aiona and Hannemann have spoken at Hawaiian Island Ministries (HIM) conferences in 2008 and 2010 and and HIM board of directors member Mirriam Hellreich, a personal friend of  Governor Lingle who attends Dan Chun's Honolulu church, served as director of finance for Linda Lingle's gubernatorial campaign in 2002 (Hellreich went on to serve as Duke Aiona's director of finance in 2007.)

Also in 2002, Lingle's campaign accepted a $3,000 contribution from Howard F. Ahmanson's Fieldstead Company but returned the money following a complaint from Hawaii Citizens For The Separation of Church and State. Ahmanson has advocated the imposition of "Biblical Law" and was a close friend of the late R. J. Rushdoony, founder of Christian Reconstructionism who advocated the death penalty for idolatry, homosexuality, and adultery.  

In 2003 Lingle picked, as her cabinet member for Business, Economic Development & Tourism, Theodore Liu, a director at Dan Chun's First Presbyterian Church and also a director at Hawaiian Island Ministries.


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