>Hawaii’s Gay Past… and Future

>In 1779 Captain James Cook became the first non-Polynesian to visit Hawaii. Cook met his death there, but his crew members kept journals that showed the world how the native islanders lived, as described in this article in Out Traveler.

The sailor’s journals show that the kings of Maui, Kauai, and the big Island all had male aikane, a term used to describe a “rank of people who were granted special political and social status as a result of a sexual role with the royalty.” The aikane, were believed to increase their spiritual power in this way also, since the royalty were thought to be descended from the gods.

Even King Kamehameha, known as the Great Uniter of the Hawaiian Islands, kept an aikane, as he brought his favorites on board for a night, “among them a young man of whom he seems very fond, which does not in the lest surprise us, as we have had opportunities before of being acquainted with a detestable part of his character which he is not in the least anxious to conceal,” according to the ship’s logs.

Scholars have determined that in that culture there was no shame associated with same-sex relationships and sodomy was not considered wrong.

In what I see as a great bit of irony, the words used to describe same-sex relations were
ho ‘okamaka and moe aikane or, “ho” and “moe” for short.

More information is available from the book, The Out Traveler: Hawaii by Matthew Link, Alyson Books, 2008.

Remember back in 1993 the Supreme Court of Hawaii ruled that under the state constitution the state could not deny same sex couples the same marriage rights afforded to opposite sex couples unless they could find a compelling reason to do so? Yada yada yada and five years later, 69 percent of Hawaii residents voted to amend the Constitution and give the Legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.

But now momentum is growing for same sex marriage and legislation is expected to be introduced in the state legislature next year to do just that.

A poll taken in December 2007 shows that 70 per cent of Hawaiians support equal rights for same sex couples and over 50 per cent support full marriage rights. In 1998 only 39 per cent supported same sex marriage.

Alan Spector, co-chair of Family Equality Coalition says that marriage is still a possibility. While the amendment does give the state legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite sex couples, it does nothing more.

“Nowhere in there does it say same-sex marriage is banned,” he said, “and nowhere in there does it say the Legislature is prevented from legalizing same-sex marriage.”

Legalization of marriage in California and that state’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s support strengthens the momentum in Hawaii, according to Spector. The Family Equality Coalition is seeking to re-engage the public as well as the legislature on the issue, and has support among Republicans in the legislature as well as Democrats.

This is worth keeping up with, and I say “Go Hawaii!” Someday, a honeymoon at Mahina Kai, will be possible.

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