HONOLULU — The Hawaii Democratic Party is considering whether to rebuke two state lawmakers for introducing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage during the last session, in defiance of the party’s platform.
Party members are expected to meet on Oahu Aug. 10 to consider recommendations from a panel investigating Sen. Mike Gabbard and Rep. Sharon Har, who both represent Kapolei.
The panel says the lawmakers have the right to introduce bills, but violated membership requirements of the party in a way that warrants sanctions. The panel is recommending a tougher reprimand for Gabbard because the party believes he previously violated its platform on civil rights in 2009.
The panel is recommending that complaints be dropped against several other lawmakers who co-sponsored the constitutional amendment.
Gabbard says lawmakers should be able to act on their conscience and the
wishes of their constituents.
“It’s unfortunate that a few people are attempting to hijack our ‘big tent’ party and will stop at nothing to silence those who don’t agree with them,” Gabbard told the newspaper in an email.
Har said the complaints stem from a personal vendetta from one of her constituents, and set a dangerous precedent.
“This is not what the Democratic Party stands for, which is what makes the complaint so offensive,” Har said. “At the end of the day, the bills were not heard by either body so to continue pursuing the complaint and sanctions is obviously personal.”
The bills died without being heard by committees. Advocates of gay marriage have been pushing for a special session to revisit the issue since last month, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings that emboldened those who want the state to go beyond its existing civil unions law.
Senate and House leaders have said they don’t have enough support to warrant calling a special session themselves. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has not indicated whether he would call a special session himself.