Much of the testimony was prepared speeches by opponents, who somehow seemed to think that if they talked long enough, the bill would die. Reports David Badash,
Most of those opposed to equality identified themselves as “a registered voter” and “as a Christian” and claimed similar arguments: the bill is unconstitutional, it abridges their civil rights, children will be forced to learn about gay sex practices in school, what’s the rush?, let the people vote, homosexuality is a choice, this process is undemocratic, and homosexuality is against God.Can you imagine what it must have been like to sit through that? One alternative testifier, the film-maker Joe Wilson, made an important point in his awesome testimony:
During this special session, the people of Hawaii, and indeed the world, have been witness to the hell that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, mahu, 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 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.
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.Joe Wilson is married to the geneticist Dean Hamer, and they have made a film called Out in the Silence about life for gay folk in small town rural America.