Hurrah, “gay” marriage is now legal in Hawaii. Only problem is, at least one state senator who has been against it all along is now saying that the law doesn’t pertain to bisexuals. This is of course, not true.
The Hawaiʻi Marriage Equality Act of 2013 passed the state legislature and was signed by Governor Abercrombie on November 13th 2013. The law took effect December 2nd 2013. The Marriage Act allows same-sex couples to exercise the freedom to marry in Hawaiʻi on the same terms as different-sex couples. You may get married in Hawaiʻi if you both are at least 18 years old, neither of you is currently in a marriage or civil union, or registered as reciprocal beneficiaries, with someone other than the person you plan to marry. There is nothing in the law that addresses in any way, how either of the parties self-identify.
HI State Senator Mike Gabbard, a “Blue Dog“ (i.e socially conservative) Democrat, voted against the same-sex marriage bill a number of times, but his latest reason is particularly biphobic. In the passage of the same-sex laws, the Hawaii lawmakers “seem to have forgotten their bisexual brothers and sisters.” He declared that bisexuals would not be allowed to marry.
In 2007 Gabbard switched from the Republican to Democratic Party of Hawaii. According to an article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin Gabbard stated “my experience over at the Legislature has convinced me that in order to be more effective, it would be best if I were a part of the majority party.” It is reported that this switch in parties has been of some controversy, including repeated complaints regarding his opposition to the Democratic Party of Hawai’i’s platform, and possible actions that may impact other Democrats.
His daughter US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a freshman congresswoman who House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has described as a “rising star,” seems to have distanced herself from some of her family’s more extreme views.
Additionally the Hawaiian Republicans were also at the forefront of the biphobia, sponsoring radio ads telling listeners: “The same-sex legislation is merely a stepping stone to have government forcibly legitimize and normalize all sorts of deviant behavior. Terrible consequences will affect everyone and everything imaginable forever.” Then, they warn: “bisexual marriage is right around the corner.”
Where both State Senator Gabbard as well as the Republican Party went badly wrong is in their interpretations of bisexuality. Bisexuals do not need two or more partners to be satisfied, and in fact, bisexuals are not all Polyamorists/Polygamists (i.e. wishing/needing to marry more than one gender at a time) to be happy. Bisexuality is not synonymous with being either polyamorous or promiscuous. Individual bisexual people may be celibate, asexual, monogamous or non-monogamous just as individual straight, lesbian or gay people can be.
While mainstream lesbian/gay groups along with their progressive allies continue to denounce and disprove the ridiculous statements that the anti-marriage activists persist in making, sadly the bigots seemed to have hit the jackpot with the scary “bisexual marriage” menace. Instead of countering the slur and defending the largest part of the LGBT Community, pro-marriage advocates have either stayed silent, given confused answers, made jokes or some combination of these, while trying to seek “clarification” from mainstream gay/lesbian groups.
May we respectfully suggest that in the future, when faced with discussing issues pertaining to the bisexual community people should get into the habit of always asking reputable national and regional bisexual groups such as the American Institute of Bisexuality and BiNet USA or the Bisexual Organizing Project and the Bisexual Resource Center instead?
A version of this blog post originally appeared in Bisexuality Examiner.