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Lesbian Hawaii State Rep. Jo Jordan Explains Why She Voted Against Marriage Equality

Lesbian Hawaii state Rep. Jo Jordan caused quite a stir when she became the first openly gay legislator in the nation to vote against marriage equality. 


Now she's explaining her vote (and reflecting on reaction from the LGBT community) in an interview with Honolulu Magazine. Jordan says (via Queerty):


It has been interesting. I am not part of any faith-based group, so I walked in thinking those were going to be the ones going, grrrr, grrrr. But unfortunately, it’s been coming from my community during the hearing. I was like, ‘Wow, so much for minorities that have been suppressed.’ But I’ve got to look at it this way: Maybe they feel they’ve been suppressed for so long that they no longer can contain it and they are just going to lash out at anything without thinking first. But I have to keep that faith to help me not take it personally. It’s not about who is right and who is wrong. It’s about, are we creating a measure that meets the needs of all?


I had come to the decision that SB1 needed to amended. It wasn’t protective enough for everybody. And I truly know, my GLBT community is not going to go somewhere where they are not welcome. They are not going to go, “Pastor, you need to marry us, even though it is against your grain.” Because they want their happy day to be a happy day. A couple isn’t going to step into something that’s not warm and welcoming. We’re really looking at those fringe guys, those ones that pop up on the edges that say, “You’re treading on my rights, so I’m going to come and challenge you.”


When you look at a measure, you have to consider, how do we make this the golden standard, as bulletproof as possible? My major concerns on SB1 was, first, the parental maternal rights, 57-2c, that wasn’t healthy. That definitely needed to be fixed. The religious exemption was not adequate enough. And the divorce portion in there is not fair. We’re talking about creating equity. They have made a provision here where you don’t have to domicile here. And I totally get what they’re saying, but I have some serious problems with that. We should at least make some sort of domicile in our state, so they can file for divorce here.


I really am not happy with the exemptions. Too narrow.


I’m not here to protect the big churches or the little churches, I’m saying we can’t erode what’s currently out there. We don’t want to scratch at the religious protections at all, because if we don’t create a measure that’s bulletproof, or as close to bulletproof as possible, then the measure will go to the courts. And they will interpret it however that may be. A judge will make assumptions and make a ruling, and that will become the law of the land. So you really want us to create the legislation.


I haven’t figured out why I felt so compelled to fight for the religious exemptions, to not erode Constitutional rights. I don’t belong to any particular denomination. I don’t wear one of those hats. I take religion out of everything. My religion is the mountain, the aina and spiritual. Everybody finds their own religion somewhere. I have the same values as they do, but it’s just a little different. When I walked into this session, that rose to the surface. Why me? Why am I trying to protect your religious rights?


I’m still trying to figure out. I’ve always followed paths. I don’t find the path. The path finds me. This, obviously, is a path I’m supposed to go. You’re not supposed to question. Just ‘OK.’


At the end of the day, the way SB1 HD1 is written right now, walking into the third reading I can’t say it is written the best that we can provide to all.  If that’s at the risk of not allowing same-gender couples to get married on Dec. 2, I can’t stop that, I’m sorry. We want to make sure it’s good. It’s not about who gets to the finish line first.  It’s just not.”


What do you think of the rationale behind her vote, Instincters?





"Not fair" or "not right" are not satisfactory explanations to me.

Individuals with deeply held religious beliefs are allowed to marry. They should not be given special rights to bypass the public accommodations law and be allowed to discriminate against gays and lesbians in the public sphere.

There is no domiciliary requirement to marry, yet SS couples have waited years, if not decades, to do so in their home state. Where are her priorities?

I'd also like an explanation as to why the presumption of parentage in the marriage equity bill is considered unfair while the same presumption of parentage exists in OS marriages?

Never once did she indicate any support for SS marriage or the bill and her line of questioning, in obvious coordination with other opponents, demonstrated an intent to bring about the bill's demise rather than its success.

"The people," to which she would refer to never included SS families like mine.

We are in a battle for our civil rights and yet despite the urgency, she wants to wait until there is a flawless bill???? I am glad our founding fathers didn't wait for the perfect constitution before forging ahead. 

Someone wanted more than 15 minutes of fame. She speaks well enough of her reasons, but why wait till she did? She had plenty of chances to speak out on her opinion before that. Being from the 808 I think we should do away with her. 

This entire argument that religious groups or clergy may be forced to officiate at gay marriages is bogus.  No clergy or house of worship has ever been required or forced to officiate at any marriage.  Throughout history many clergy have refused to marry straight folks for various reasons.

Perhaps this legislator needs a course in History 101.

Progress is more about little steps rather than one sweeping step forward. 

After all, she and women have 'only' had the right to vote since 1920...

My initial reaction has not changed. The job of a legislator is to represent her constituency. Her own statement that 75% of her constituency was in favor followed by the fact that she voted against it in the second (?) reading shows that she put herself above her constituency for whatever reason.

There should not be another dime in financial support for re-elections going to her.

Note: The bill draft was fully vetted by actual legal experts.

I respect her opinion and it shows her true colors-- that being a leader who thinks before she speaks or votes.  She was very thorough in her explanation and I believe that she probably had a darn good reason for doing what she did.  Again I hope that her hesitations don't turn out to be true.

Why didn't she express these views before voting against marriage equality?

There is a proverb: The best is the enemy of the good.  So it's not a perfect law; pass it and then start work to improve it.  It is unlikely, with any bill, that it is perfect.  The laws that affect marriage and divorce in general in Hawaii are not perfect now after how many years.  Were I in her district I would be looking for another person to represent me.

This sounds like she is back peddling from what was reported about her in Instinct's Nov. 7th article you published:

"Jordan had reservations about the bill before Hawaii’s special session even began. Last week, she explained that she was undecided, because even though 75 percent of her constituents support marriage equality, she felt she had to represent the entire state. She seemed to be unaware that statewide polling showed a 55 percent majority support marriage equality."

I hope Hawaiians vote this macadamia nut out asap!

It's a reasonable argument, and deserves respect, even if I disagree with it.

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