Bay Area Reporter: Leading opponent to marriage equality in Hawaii has change of heart
February 11, 2009
CHANGE OF HEART: One the leading opponents of marriage equality in Hawaii now says she's seen the light and is moving toward supporting the legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples. Debi Hartmann, former co-chair of the Mormon offshoot Hawaii's Future Together, told Dan Aiello of the Bay Area Reporter that she's become "educated and enlightened":
"A lot of people felt that not just me, but our organization, caused a lot of pain and a lot of grief," she said. "I have come to understand what that means. I did not at the time. Even in all my studies and through all my research, I did not grasp that." Hartmann is currently an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University, Hawaii. It wasn't until Hartmann was approached by JoAnn Adams, a former chair of the GLBT caucus of the Hawaiian Democratic Party, and asked by Adams to compare the reciprocal beneficiaries law Hartmann helped enact to Hawaii's marriage law, that Hartmann first began to recognize what she had done to same-sex families in the name of protecting the definition of traditional marriage. Adams confirmed the encounter with Hartmann. "I did approach her," Adams wrote in an e-mail. "And even though she knew there was an intention to the path where I was leading her, she agreed to do the research." "What happened was I was shocked," Hartmann said. "Now a lot had happened to me in those 10 years [since Hartmann led the LDS fight against same-sex marriage]. I had become educated and enlightened. And when I began to review the reciprocal beneficiaries law, I wasn't approaching it from an emotional standpoint or trying to defend something. I was simply approaching it. I wasn't looking to find something, I was just looking. What Hawaii's Future Today was looking for in the inclusion of benefits in the reciprocal beneficiaries law wasn't there. When I went back and looked for the outline of the bill ... what happened was in conference committee it had been gutted, rights had been stripped out of it. And then I compared it to the marriage law. That law automatically enjoins children, and spouse. Reciprocal benefits did not. That's when I realized I had hurt families." ..."I did not grasp that I was supporting a bill that was not protecting and enjoining all rights and protections that all families with children should have a right to have. I was supporting a law that literally oppressed and repressed and I didn't get that," said Hartmann.
Hartmann's story is worth reading in its entirety.