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Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “08c – Hawaii Aftermath”

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08c – Hawaii Aftermath


“A woman who once led the charge against gay unions in Hawaii is now lobbying for their passage. Debi Hartmann is working with gay activists and Democratic leaders in Hawaii to enact civil unions that carry the same rights as traditional marriage.

The move represents a stark change for Hartmann, who once led Hawaii’s Future Today, a conservative group of Mormons, Catholics and others who opposed gay unions.…” (Ian David, “Anti-gay activist Debi Hartmann now lobbying in favor of Civil Unions,” www.DemocraticUnderground.com, January 13, 2007)


“With the Hawaii Legislature now considering civil unions for same-sex couples, a former leader of the Mormon opposition to same-sex marriage in that state reiterated that she no longer believes what she spent years fighting to defend. Marriage rights, she now says, should be for everyone, though she stops short of actually supporting same-sex marriage.

Throughout a nearly two-hour telephone interview last weekend that was at times emotional, repentant, and remorseful, Debi Hartmann, a former co-chair of an anti-same-sex marriage organization in Hawaii, acknowledged she has come to understand that she was wrong. Marriage rights, she now concludes, should be granted to same-sex couples.…

Asked if she believes any single religion has the right to impose its beliefs unto the constitution of a secular government, Hartmann said, ‘I thought that having civil unions and having marriage was the perfect answer to that question, as long as all rights are provided. I absolutely believed that up until last year when I read the California Supreme Court’s ruling.’

The court ruling was the turning point for Hartmann on marriage equality.

‘It crushed my beliefs,’ explained Hartmann. ‘It taught me that words can be invidious. For example, if you and I had to walk into a doctor’s office and they ask us to fill out a form and you have to check ‘civil union’ and I check ‘marriage,’ that’s the invidious discrimination. The same rights have to be called by the same name. That’s the answer to removing the religion from our laws.’…

Hartmann is a former co-chair of Hawaii’s Future Today, which was created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.…  (Dan Aiello, “Marriage opponent regrets past, now supports equality,” Bay Area Reporter, February 12, 2009)


[p. 1185] The nationalization of the conflict was highly successful. In 1995, two years after the Baehr decision and before the Hawaii trial court had even ruled on remand, Utah passed a law declaring marriages between same-sex couples to be void. Between 1995 and November 2003, when Goodridge was decided, an additional thirty-six states followed Utah’s lead and passed measures restricting marriage for same-sex couples in one way or another, and the measures generally passed by wide margins.… (Jane S. Schacter, “Courts and the Politics of Backlash: Marriage Equality Litigation, Then and Now,” Southern California Law Review, 82:1153-24, 2009)


“To: All Bishops

(To be read in Priesthood and Relief Society)…

Members are encouraged to study this legislation prayerfully and then as private citizens contact your elected representatives in the Hawaii Legislature to express your views about the legislation. As you do so, you may want to review ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ and other Church publications available on the Church website at lds.org.…

Whether or not you favor the proposed change, we hope that you will urge your elected representatives to include in any such legislation a strong exemption for people and organizations of faith. Such an exemption should:

Protect individuals and small businesses from being required to assist in promoting or celebrating same-sex marriages.

This is an important issue.  As your stake presidency, we urge every family to discuss this issue together and then respond as you feel appropriate.…” (Michael K. Matsuraki, Brook K Parker, Matthew A. J. K. Lung, Honolulu Hawaii West Stake Presidency, September 15, 2013)


After keeping quiet while Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and others approved gay marriage, the LDS Church is once again speaking up — but with a new, post-Prop 8 tone and emphasis.

This time, it’s in Hawaii, which is poised to debate proposed legislation making same-sex marriage legal.…

The letter did not tell members which side of the issue to take, only to study the church’s ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World,’ a document that endorses one man/one woman as the ideal for marriage.…

Ruth Todd, spokeswoman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said LDS officials at the faith’s Salt Lake City headquarters ‘are aware of the letter recently read in local Relief Society and Priesthood meetings in Hawaii.’…

Owen Matsunaga, one of those stake presidents over a number of Mormon congregations and the church’s spokesman in Hawaii, affirmed that stance, saying that ‘senior church leaders … are certainly aware of the issues in Hawaii and elsewhere in the world, and are available to us to provide expertise as needed, but expect local leaders and members to make decisions specific to local circumstances.’…

This new approach in Hawaii is ‘significant,’ said Quin Monson, a political scientist at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University. ‘It doesn’t seem to be asking for direct involvement in the direction of the legislation, but asking people to defend religious liberty.’”  (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Mormons join Hawaii’s gay-marriage fight, but with a new approach,” Salt Lake Tribune, September 19, 2013)


“Reports that the Mormon church had given up the fight over gay marriage were premature.…

Now that the 2012 election is over, and Mitt Romney, the nation’s most famous Mormon, is no longer running for president, it seems the church is back in the ring. This week, the Hawaii state legislature began a special session to consider a bill that would legalize gay marriage in the state. The church is actively working to kill that measure.…

Cynics have suggested that the Hawaii campaign is evidence that the church was only temporarily backing away from the marriage fight to help Romney.…

Officials in Salt Lake City would not answer questions about why the church didn’t get involved in state marriage battles last year but are doing so now that the presidential election is over. A spokeswoman suggested asking a ‘political science’ professor about that issue and forwarded the following statement from Owen Matsunaga, a local church leader in Hawaii:

The Church’s position in relation to same-sex marriage is unchanged. The Church is opposed to the proposed legislation in Hawaii for two reasons: first, it attempts to redefine marriage.  The Church is firm in its belief that marriage as the union of a man and a woman is most beneficial to children, families, and society. Second, the protections offered in the current draft are completely inadequate to safeguard constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms.…”

(Stephanie Mencimer, “Election Over, the Mormon Church Quietly Re-enters the Gay Marriage Fight,” Mother Jones, October 29, 2013)


“It is true that the letters read in Hawaii wards were signed by local leaders, and don’t give any indication that anything is being orchestrated from Salt Lake. This is, of course, in stark contrast to what happened in California, where the letters read were signed by the First Presidency, not by local stake leaders.…

I have not heard anything on the grapevine about any Church leaders actually organizing more concerted lobbying efforts. It looks like everything boils down to reading this strong statement against marriage equality and encouraging members to get involved in these letters, read once over every LDS pulpit in Hawaii.…” (John Gustav-Wrathall to Sharon Groves, Human Rights Campaign, October 28, 2013)


Bishop Larry Silva of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu warned in a letter to parishioners that allowing same-sex marriage would open the door to incest and polygamy and cause poverty and juvenile suicides.…

Both sides claimed to represent the true ‘aloha spirit.’ Some ethnic Hawaiians tearfully said the bill would destroy their culture, and the opponents’ television and radio ads described as endangered the Hawaiian heritage of ‘ohana,’ or family, of ‘mothers and fathers caring for each other and their keiki,’ or children.

But ethnic historians noted that the pre-European island culture did not have marriage in the modern sense and accepted homosexuality.…” (Eric Eckholm, “Gay Marriage Battle Nears End in Hawaii, the First Front Line,” New York Times, November 8, 2013)