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Lingle’s veto justified by an argument based in a sense of entitlement and superiority

Timothy Kincaid

July 7th, 2010

I do not believe that Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle is a bigot. I have not witnessed overt hostility towards gay Hawaiians or a pattern of anti-gay activism on her part. I think that she perceives herself as respectful and that she genuinely did feel some measure of compassion for the gay men and women who met with her on this issue.

However, one need not personally be a bigot to be motivated by disreputable intentions. And the argument that eventually compelled Lingle to veto this legislation was based in a sense of entitlement and superiority, the same emotion that drives racism, sexism, and other forms of bigoted expression.

From the text of Lingle’s veto speech:

I am vetoing this bill because I have become convinced that this issue is of such significant societal importance that it deserves to be decided directly by all the people of Hawaii.

After listening to those both for and against HB 444 I have gained a new appreciation for just how deeply people of all ages and backgrounds feel on this matter, and how significantly they believe the issue will affect their lives.

Few could be unmoved by the poignant story told to me in my office by a young, Big Island man who recounted the journey he had taken to bring himself to tell his very traditional parents that he was gay. I was similarly touched by the mother who in the same office expressed anguish at the prospect of the public schools teaching her children that a same gender marriage was equivalent to their mother and father’s marriage.

But in the end, it wasn’t the persuasiveness of public debates, the soundness of legal arguments, or the volume of letters and emails that convinced me to reach this decision. It was the depth of emotion felt by those on both sides of the issue that revealed to me how fundamental the institution of marriage is to our community.

Lingle’s examples – those which best illustrated the “depth of emotion” which she observed – consisted of two individual stories.

In the first, Lingle ignored entirely the real concerns and needs of same-sex couples. She dismissed rights, obligations, and benefits to focus instead on a coming out story. We don’t know if this man was denied hospital visitation or if he paid higher taxes or even if he was part of a couple; we only know that his parents were traditional (with the assumption that all traditional parents are, by default, homophobic).

That is how Lingle characterized the entire quest for couples equality: the emotional difficulty of coming out.

Her second example was more accurate; it correctly expressed the motivations of those who object to civil equality.

This woman wished for her children to believe in the superiority of heterosexuals. She wished them to believe that heterosexuals are due privileges and benefits solely for being heterosexual. And she opposed any public impressions that would suggest that all citizens of Hawaii are equal. The idea that a school might teach that those same-sex people in a civil union were equivalent to her and her husband brought her anguish.

And this is at the heart of Lingle’s decision. This was the argument which she found compelling. Indeed, it wasn’t even a matter of some religion or other owning the word “marriage” but because she found civil unions to be “essentially marriage by another name.”

In her follow up comments, Lingle clarified that her objection was that HB 444 “has all the same rights, responsibilities, benefits and protections” as marriage. It just didn’t leave heterosexual as adequately “better” than gays and lesbians.

Lingle begs her constituents to recognize that she gave the decision making process the dignity that it deserves. But I am not so generous as to assume dignity or a fair consideration.

Because Governor Linda Lingle, like the woman whose anguish justified Lingle’s veto, wants to keep heterosexuals as privileged, superior, and entitled. And that is a most disreputable motivation.

Comments

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DN
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

Spot on – great piece.

Ben in Oakland
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

You know your argument is bankrupt if you can only talk aobut doing it for a) the children, or b) god.

Of course, the actual children of gay people don’t matter as much as this one woman’s child having to learn something different in school.

As I said in my letter to her: just how much less equal does the law need to make us to be acceptable to people who wish to legally disadvantage our families as much as possible?

Lindoro Almaviva
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

You know? Bigotry does not need to be outwardly expressed to be there. I’m sorry, but there is no more proof that she is not bigoted than proof that she is.

And just as you said, that sense of entitlement and superiority does breed bigotry, so if she is not there, she is well on her way.

Ben in Oakland
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

By the way, timothy…

bang on

Ray
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

She’s a bigot. A George-Wallace-Bull-Conner bigot. She doesn’t want to know that gays and lesbians exist and she uses that “protect the children” bumper sticker for cover.

Bigot.

Candace
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

So her decision was based on the emotional appeal of the personal animus of anti-gay individuals? It’s been proven time and agan that ALL of the objections to same-sex marrage come down to personal animus, because there isn’t a single legitimate reason to dissaprove of it other than that. I have been asking this question of gay marriage opponents for years, and not a single one of them has ever answered it: “Gay marriage gas been legal in many states for years. How has that affected your marriage?” The answer, (if one is given instead of an angry huff-off,) is always the same– “it hasn’t, BUT….” and they start right back up with the litany of slippery slope and illogical nonsense that they always spout.

I guess GLBTT people will have to comment on her stupidity economically. That does seem to make bigots eventually sit up and listen.

And she’s a bigot, no matter what flowery terms she tries to use to explain how she isn’t a bigot, she just thinks the genuine personal animus of anti-gay people was SO moving that she couldn’t help but decide in favor of their bigotry.

Candace
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

“gas….” jeez. An edit feature would be ever so nice……….

AJD
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

I can see your point, but I still say she’s a bigot.

She doesn’t come out and say that she hates gay people or call us names, but she still chose to veto a bill that would have provided something approaching equality for GLBT people. She did this without consideration not for the “depth of emotion” of GLBT people but for the fact that we are tangibly and measurably harmed by our inability to obtain legal recognition for our relationships.

She chose to perpetuate that harm in order to cater to the base emotions of those more obviously bigoted and, more than likely, to advance herself politically.

So while she may consciously believe herself not to be bigoted, she nevertheless showed a willingness to hurt people based on their sexual orientation for political expediency and to favor “depth of emotion” over practical reality.

So yes, Lingle is a homophobic bigot.

RWG
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

…”we got ours…and we ain’t sharin’ it with no damn queers!”

Of course, anybody knows that normal people are so much better than those filthy perverts with their disgusting lifestyle. How dare they think they deserve anything like we have? They’re not normal. Don’t they have any shame? They should just keep all that disgusting filth to themselves…or better yet, go someplace else to live. I’m all for equality and all…it’s the American way, just not THAT kind of equality!

Regan DuCasse
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

It’s been an interesting recasting that those who opposed marriage for gay couples have done to bigotry.
The word is ugly, it has a profound meaning and there IS a definition for it.
Being squeamish, uncomfortable or disconnected from the meaning, doesn’t matter.
When the EFFECT is the same, when the results of legal and civil policies REFLECT what bigotry is defined by, then it is nothing but that.
The consciousness that requires citizens seeking the same treatment, that does have the same result (that is, equality has had a commendable legacy), then resistance to that treatment begs the question: why choose a bigoted policy if you are not in fact a bigot?

What DOES this and other policies directed at gay people do? What protections or benefits are there from it? And what does it have in common with OTHER systemic bigotry and public policy?

There is nothing about the equality of gay people that mimics anything dangerous or threatening to anything tangible.
The only thing, it could be argued, that is, is the perception of the superiority and privilege that heterosexuals have.

And when it doesn’t matter how exemplary, productive and contributing that gay person’s life is in being treated in ways that life would accord a heterosexual, then ONLY bigotry is prohibiting equal treatment, NOT the way that gay person is actually behaving.

I’ve asked those who don’t think of themselves as bigots this simple question:
why is it, when a gay person does exactly what a hetero person would be applauded for, they insist that it damages society, and the integrity of what that gay person is engaging in?
How is that even possible?

They NEVER, EVER have an answer for it, because it easily reveals the bigot behind that idea.
It’s a tough, bitter word. But what quacks, walks and flies like a duck, must be a duck.

number two
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

Are you sure that’s not a photo of Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie?

justsearching
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

A politician has to know how to pretend to be nice, appear to be balanced, and look like she really gives a damn about all those involved. But I think the stories she tells reveal that she doesn’t really value all the opinions she heard equally. I think she was probably planning on vetoing the bill before it passed, and she only let the deadline approach so she could appear to be thinking about it. She’s playing to her base.

cowboy
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

All BGLT friends of Ms. Lingle should immediately scratch her name off their Christmas Card list.

Chris McCoy
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid said:

I do not believe that Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle is a bigot. I have not witnessed overt hostility towards gay Hawaiians or a pattern of anti-gay activism on her part.

Overt hostility is not part of the defintion of bigot.

And the argument that eventually compelled Lingle to veto this legislation was based in a sense of entitlement and superiority, the same emotion that drives racism, sexism, and other forms of bigoted expression.

Let’s stop trying to be nice to our detractors and call a spade a spade. She made her decision based on bigoted ideals of (heterosexual) superiority, and if that isn’t the definition of bigotry, I don’t know is.

While I understand that people don’t like being called out on their bigotry, and that the hard-line approach doesn’t work all the time – it does work some of the time. This is one of those times.

Pretending that it is something less than bigotry only serves to legitimize the opponents of equality.

johnathan
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

“…I was similarly touched by the mother who in the same office expressed anguish at the prospect of the public schools teaching her children that a same gender marriage was equivalent to their mother and father’s marriage. …”

But, it is a civil union, NOT a marriage. Same-sex marriages are explicitly prohibited, both in the state statutes and in the state constitution of Hawaii.

Christopher Eberz
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

For me Governor Lingle’s bigotry (yes I’m in that camp) was apparent the moment she defended her veto by describing civil unions as “marriage by another name,” which is tantamount to saying “that which has the substance of marriage.”

This isn’t a position that can hide behind the rhetoric used to oppose full marriage equality: “I don’t believe in discrimination, just don’t call it marriage.” This is a position that says same-sex couples do not deserve to be treated the same, even when “treated the same” means “separate but equal.”

Separate but equal. She won’t even give us that. She enjoys rights and protections while denying them to others. How many ways can it be said; she’s a bigot.

Mark
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

Well, I suppose if you lower the bar enough she isn’t a bigot. After all, she hasn’t supported putting us in concentration camps or reviving sodomy laws. But she does think heterosexuals are superior than homosexuals, just like George Wallace (before he did a genuine about face) used to think whites were better than blacks. That’s bigotry in my book.

occono
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

Civil Unions, Marriage. What’s the difference when the former is actually a possibility rather then a way to shut people up.

Scooter J
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

I am confused.

When a closted gay politician, (Kirk) revealed through his voting record, (DADT) that he “want(ed) to keep heterosexuals as privileged, superior, and entitled” there was no mention anywhere in your editorial article that his motivation was “most disreputable”. Instead we were challenged on the appropriateness and rules of “outing”.

I am sure Kirk also “gave (his DADT) decision making process the dignity that it deserves” but your opinion of him seems somewhat different than that of Lingle and I am not clear why.

Don’t get me wrong, to me Lingle is an absolute bigot, but why is her motivation any more odious than Kirk’s?

I love this website and find myself often challenged and enlightened, so I look forward to learning from you all about how I have missed the point.

pax58
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

In a book “Moral Man, Immoral Society” a German theologian who have escaped Hitler’s Germany pressed the biggest question of WWII. It was not the Nazi’s themselves, but the thousands of average German citizens who set back, looked the other, and pretended that genocide was not all around them. His conclusion: our collective immorality is far more damaging than those things we do as individuals. I grew up with a large Afro-American community right as the civil rights movement started. I cannot tell you how many “good” people were very nice to the Afro-Americans who lived in our area, but God forbid that one of them move next door or marry thier child. People who have studied justice issues always point to the fact that the majority (in this case, the heterosexuals) do not recognize the issues because they sit in a privilleged place.
Where this all comes down is to our US Constitiusion (sp) which has made the majority rule in democracy balanced with protections for the minority.
The governor may play “nice” with individual GLBT persons, but she is a public official and as such has let the minority living in an unjust state simply in my opinion because she might be a “nice” bigot, but she is a bigot. Not unlike those folks I knew growing up who were so nice to Afro-Americans.

Timothy Kincaid
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

Scooter,

So as to clarify the issue which is confusing you, can you please link to the Kirk commentary that you are confused about? I don’t recall discussing Kirk’s motivations either when he voted to exclude the DADT repeal from the appropriations bill or when he voted for the appropriations bill which contained the repeal.

adamblast
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

Thank you for making explicit her assumptions of superiority. You have put it very politely, something many of us find very difficult at this point.

John in the Bay Area
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

Lingle vetoed the Civil Union bill in order to deny gay couples some of the protections that heterosexual couples in Hawaii enjoy. This was done within the context that full equality in Hawaii has already been denied by law.

Lingle proudly opposes full equality for gay and lesbian residents of Hawaii. Further, she opposes and used the power of her veto to deny granting various protections that fall short of marriage to gay and lesbian couples in Hawaii.

What does one have to do in order to qualify for the term bigot, if working diligently to deny equal protection under the law doesn’t qualify?

I agree with many of the criticisms of Lingle in this article, but I disagree with the reluctance to call this for what it is: bigotry from a twice divorced “marriage protection” bigot.

Matt
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

I’m curious- did Obama ever call the governor and offer his two cents? After all, this was the state he was born in, you’d think his word would carry a little weight there.

cd
July 7th, 2010 | LINK

Surely you weren’t expecting integrity or moral courage from a Republican politician trying to stay in good graces with her Party these days, Tim?

They’re beholden to the 24% reactionaries in the electorate, which make up 60% of Republican primary voters. I think they’re hopeless on gay rights for another 8-10 years.

My bet is that the Hawaiian Mormons and their pals in Salt Lake City went to Lingle and told her that if she didn’t veto she wouldn’t have a future as a Republican.

adamblast
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

I have to agree with the feedback majority here: a polite bigot is still a bigot. An unconcious and unthinking bigot is still a bigot as well. And her pleas for respect should fall on more-or-less deaf ears, having denied US any.

BobN
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

Well, she’s either a bigot or too stupid to lead a state.

I don’t buy the idea that a thinking person can make the argument she does, unless it’s all for show.

penguinsaur
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

I’m so sick of this stupid idea that your only a bigot if you stand next to Fred Phelps and shout “GOD HATES FAGS!”.

Fred Phelps has accomplished nothing, as far as I know his cult doesn’t even commit violence, *if only so they can win in the inevitable lawsuits* no gay person has ever had their equality denied because of Fred Phelps.

This woman is thousands of times more bigoted and hateful than Fred Phelps. She has denied rights and benefits to thousands of gay people in her state while crazy old Fred has just shouted obscenities.

John Doucette
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

Whenever somebody expresses that peoples’ civil rights should be put to a vote, that is bigotry. There is no other way to look at it.

Emily K
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

“I was similarly touched by the mother who in the same office expressed anguish at the prospect of the public schools teaching her children that the Jewish religion was as equally fulfilling and relevant as their mother and father’s religion, Christianity.”

“I was similarly touched by the mother who in the same office expressed anguish at the prospect of the public schools teaching her children that a mixed-race marriage was equivalent to their mother and father’s racially pure marriage.”

For all this “thinking of the children,” I wonder how often Lingle thinks of the children of gay couples. “Sorry sweetie, your family isn’t a real family, you have 2 mommies!”

Mortanius
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

Voting on Civil Rights. Amen! That’s their God Given Right to allow a simple majority vote. Heck, why don’t they just vote off all Black people? Or White People? Or Woman’s rights? After all if it’s up to the people of Hawaii then by god let them decide everything.

Priya Lynn
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy said “I do not believe that Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle is a bigot. I have not witnessed overt hostility towards gay Hawaiians or a pattern of anti-gay activism on her part.”.

Denying gays and lesbians the same rights heterosexuals have is an act of overt hostility. Its baffling that you can’t see that and regularly want to show deference to those who seek to hurt us – must be stockholm syndrome.

Regan said “why choose a bigoted policy if you are not in fact a bigot?”.

Exactly.

CPT_Doom
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

All BGLT friends of Ms. Lingle should immediately scratch her name off their Christmas Card list.

That will teach the Jewish governor :-)

Seriously, I am with you, but you are being far too tame. I believe that actions like Lingle’s, which apparently happened just after she spent time at Pride with PFLAG members, demand nothing less than shunning.

I am of the camp that bigotry=believing straight people are better than gays, no matter how nice or “tolerant” you might be to LGBT people in your life. And I am very sure there are such people in Lingle’s life, whether she’s a self-hating closet case or not. Those people need to simply cut off their reliationships with her. I understand the leader of the Hawaii House is a gay man – he should refuse to interact with the Governor unless it is directly required by his professional duties. Any other LGBT people that regularly run into Lingle – and I mean down to the waiter at her favorite restaurant – should refuse to have any personal relationship with her. If you’re a Hawaii LGBT business owner, refuse to allow the Governor in your place of business (it’s totally legal to refuse service to any individual, as long as your reason is specific to that person). Don’t wait on her at the Post Office, don’t smile at her when she passes you in the Hall, and if she tries to interact with you, tell her she’s a bigot and turn your back.

Steve in Colorado
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

I would agree with most of the other posts —-i.e. an insult from a pleasant person with a smile on their face is just as bad as an insult from someone who is cursing at you. I am amazed that you seem to have ignored that fact that being told you are inferior by virtue of being gay is somehow less offensive just because it came from a smiling, middle aged woman who is dressed nicely. She doesn’t deserve a pass. An insult is an insult. Being passive and kissing ass is not going to get us anywhere.

John in the Bay Area
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

Now she is on the radio comparing same sex marriages or civil unions to incest. Such horrible bigotry.

Emily K
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

i disagree with those who say a smiling bigot is just as bad as a sneering bigot. I say the former is a lot worse than the latter. At least the sneer honestly reflects the sentiment.

Funky Gnoll
July 8th, 2010 | LINK

What, really? She vetoes civil unions for no good reason (hah! As if there was one!), and you don’t think she’s a bigot?

What #*$&ing planet are you from? Here on Earth, when bigots do bigoted crap, we call them on it–we don’t make excuses for them.

Bill S
July 9th, 2010 | LINK

You’ll note that in recounting the first story, she doesn’t express any empathy for the gay man, all she says is, “Few could be unmoved”. Meaning, “Oh, not ME of course, I don’t give a tiny rat’s ass.”

Burr
July 9th, 2010 | LINK

Lingle thwarted the will of the people of Hawaii with this veto..

Lingle’s Veto of Hawaii Civil Union Law Is Wrong

In other words, Gov. Lingle believes that certain public policy decisions are so fundamental to the nature of society that they cannot properly be made by the elected representatives of the people, but only by the people themselves. This seems to me to be in the grand tradition of passing the buck on a controversial issue.

Interestingly, in 1998, the people of Hawaii voted the opposite, when they adopted an amendment to the state constitution in response to litigation over same-sex marriage…

…The amendment differs from all the other state constitutional amendments that have been passed on the subject of same-sex marriage. All those other amendments forbid same-sex marriage, and some go further to forbid any substantially similar status for unmarried people, thus tying the hands of state legislatures that might otherwise be willing to enact civil union or domestic partnership laws. But the people of Hawaii did not go that far. Instead, they amended their constitution to provide that the subject of same-sex marriage is for the legislature to decide, not the courts. (And, by implication, not the people through a referendum vote.) The people of Hawaii amended their constitution to empower the legislature to deal with the subject.

And now Governor Lingle turns things on their head by saying the legislature should not decide.

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