- September 23, 2013
Post submitted by Frank Woo, one of HRC's Board of Directors based in San Francisco, CA.
Last night, I had the honor of attending Equality Hawaii Foundation's 2013 Annual Equality Gala and receive the Voice of Equality: Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign. As a Board Member of HRC, I'm honored to accept this award, but I think this award belongs to the people in the Aloha State that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender or who love, work or care for someone who is. We have fought so long to be who we are and to be respected and treated fairly and equally.
Discrimination is wrong wherever it is. As an Asian American, many of my family and I have a long history of being aware of discrimination, even growing up in San Francisco.
Sadly, some people forget their history. I remembered when I was a child, my father came home from work visibly upset because someone on the bus said to him, "Go back home, Chink!" I remember that vividly because he was so upset that a total stranger defined him based on stereotypes. Ironically my own father defined me based on stereotypes when I came out to him decades later. That was 17 years ago and it was only last year when my parents finally invited my partner over for Thanksgiving. It took a while, but that’s progress.
The people of Hawaii are a diverse people and therefore know better than many others what it is to be "other." When Hawaii passes marriage equality later this fall it will show that while people are different, love is love. We can't define people, or use labels, by calling people such as chinks, or fags. There is power in numbers, especially with retired Justice Steven Levinson, the author of the historic 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court case, Baehr v. Lewin, sparking the marriage equality movement, the ACLU of Hawaii and HRC, all working with Hawaii's state advocacy groups and leaders to finally bring marriage equality to the Aloha State.
HRC is proud to have invested in helping pass civil unions and we're proud to keep that investment up today with our support of Equality Hawaii and Hawaii United for Marriage. HRC has had staff on-the-ground here over the past several years and is continuing to work alongside Hawaii United for Marriage this year. We, and the several thousand HRC members in the Aloha State are doing all that we can to make sure that Hawaii becomes number 14 on the marriage equality trail.
Frank Woo and Retired Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Steve Levinson.