Rep. Bob McDermott on support of liberal Democratic faction: ‘We Were Played’

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Bob McDermott

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – There were fireworks on the House floor Tuesday after Rep. Bob McDermott introduced House Resolution 5, which if passed, would have replaced the hierarchy of the Republican leadership with a more conservative faction and dissolved support by the Republican caucus for the current Democratic faction in power.



McDermott, who said the current minority and majority leadership “lacked transparency” and has “shortchanged the interest of the public,” focused partly on removing Rep. Cynthia Thielen from the House Judiciary Committee and replacing her with fellow Republican, Rep. Richard Fale, because Thielen is in favor of legalizing gay marriage.


Senate Bill 1, which would legalize same sex marriage, is being debated in the legislature this week, and reaches the House Judiciary and Finance Committees on Thursday morning.


The stakes are high and the vote in the House is close, with the bill possibly passing by as many as one or two votes if it reaches the House floor. Thielen’s position on the Judiciary committee is key, McDermott said.


“In my estimation, the vote on the committee for SB1 was 6-6, and we could have killed it in committee,” McDermott said. “I love Cynthia to death on a personal basis but we just disagree politically.”


Thielen is a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and said she has no intention of stepping down, even though her position supporting same sex marriage is in contrast to her party leadership and that of her caucus leadership.


“I’m a mainstream Republican who supports Marriage Equality. I refused to step down from Judiciary Committee, where I am Ranking Member,” said Thielen.


House Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson said he didn’t agree with McDermott’s tactics.


“Removing Rep. Thielen from the Judiciary Committee is not the only way to kill the bill,” Johanson said. “I oppose the Special Session because it denies people who disagree on this issue the opportunity to fully participate in the democratic process. Similarly, I oppose removing Rep. Thielen from the House Judiciary Committee against her will because it denies her a say on a committee she has served on for years simply because she disagrees with me and the other members of the Minority Caucus on this issue.”


Johanson is also a target of McDermott’s resolution. McDermott sought to replace Johanson with former House Minority Leader Gene Ward, because he doesn’t feel the House Republican caucus is consistently standing up for Republican values or leading the caucus effectively. Johanson replaced Ward before the start of the 2013 legislative session.


“What does the Republican caucus stand for?” McDermott asked, pointing out the caucus’ lack of unity or focus.


“Representative McDermott and I both oppose same-sex marriage, but respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree with some of my fellow Republicans that giving up any official role within the House of Representatives is the best way to further our policy goals,” Johanson said. “This counterproductive strategy sends the wrong and untrue message that when Republicans don’t get exactly what we want, we cannot work with people in good faith and in a constructive manner to achieve our objectives.”


McDermott said he is also disappointed that the Democrat majority leadership took up the issue of same sex marriage legalization this week, after House Democrats had already agreed there would be no special session.


In a highly controversial move before the 2013 legislative session, the 7 House Republicans in the 51-member body supported House Speaker Emeritus Joe Souki in his move to unseat House Speaker Calvin Say.


Their support helped bring Souki, a controversial figure in his own right, back to power, and pushed out the more conservative faction of the Democratic Party.


McDermott acknowledged today that their support for the Souki faction was a mistake.


“As a member of the coalition who put the more liberal wing of the Democratic caucus in power, what sold me on it was their promise for openness, transparency, and deliberative process. Then go do this,” McDermott said noting that their leadership had gone around the wishes of the majority and set the special session to push gay marriage.


“Their promises were only quest for power,” McDermott said. “We got played and I don’t want any part of it.”






    • Not bribe money Jay, it's favortisim.
      My souce tells me that the gay massage therapists @ the Honolulu club will keep up the good work & give discounted rates to any legislator favoring SB 1.
      BTW you are a member there, right?

  1. Thielen has always been fair. Fale has no common sence; i.e. (making the Laniakea bridge an underpass to see the turtles). McDermott is not playing fair. Good article.

    • They all "play" by rules set by the governor, senate president and speaker of the house and the respective committee chairmen who preside over the hearings. None of which are Bob McDermott.

      • "not playing fair" would apply more to Senator Hee who, after saying that everyone would be allowed to testify, cut off testimony around noon when the faith-based community started to arrive. Or, Speaker Souki who replaced Rida Cabanilla (opposed to SSM) with Denny Coffman (a Pro SSM vote) on the Judiciary Committee to ensure that it would pass. A single representative speaking his mind publicly can hardly be called "not playing fair."

  2. I'm proud of Rep. Bob McDermott for exposing the evil politics that's going on in the House. Gods judgement will be upon this state if they pass the same sex marriage bill. Wake up Hawaii and see what's happening to our country. Thank you to Rep. McDermott and others in the Legislature who are standing against this sinful bill.

    • Your religious concepts are not valid in the context of civil law. The very notion that homosexuality is a 'sin' is a religious idea that has nothing to do with the scientific consensus on homosexuality, which is that homosexuality is a universally-occurring, normal human variant. Religious alibis were also presented in the past for discrimination, including discrimination against black people and against women. It was argued, for example that the Bible forbids women to vote in democracies. We laugh at such idiocy today — and people should laugh at you for your gay-bashing nonsense, too.

    • Well…'s what is happening to our country. Massachusetts has had gay marriage for almost 10 years. It has the second lowest divorce rate in the nation and a below average juvenile delinquency rate. Could it be that your "God's Judgement" is shining on Massachusetts????

    • "…21 of 25 Senators are approved it is justice? Those approving SB 1 also approved of HART's rail…is this justice too?

      AS prof. Peterson stated "democracy isn't always the best policy."

      Best modern example is our elected Obama's administration on foreign policy. He & his staff, whom he stated of; "I've thought about members of my staff in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships who are raising kids together.

      End result is they have made USA the laughing stock of the world.

      • Are you not aware that Berlin, Germany and Paris, France have out gay mayors? (So does Houston, Texas). A married lesbian prime minister of Iceland brought that country out of the worldwide financial crisis faster than any other country in the world. Belgium also has an out gay prime minister.

      • Great, France, Germany & Belgium are happy places! The LGBT touists must flock there?

        And the USA is still the laughing stock of the world.

      • Religion-Based Bigotry
        Religion-based bigotry is the foundation of anti-gay attitudes in our society and in the minds of a majority of Americans, particularly persons of faith. The term religion-based bigotry was coined because it best fits the description of the problem. The term religion-based bigotry encompasses the attitudes of prejudice, hostility or discrimination that are falsely justified by religious teachings or belief. We will never see full and equal rights unless we address the root of people’s anti-gay attitude.

        Religion-based bigotry is not synonymous with bigotry. It is a uniquely vile form of bigotry as the prejudice, hostility and discrimination behind the words are given a moral stamp of approval.

        Faith in America’s core message is that religious-based condemnation and rejection of LGBT people cause great harm to LGBT individuals and our society.

        We have learned that when we focus on the harms caused by religious hostility toward gay people – its destructive role in the lives of gay and lesbian Americans and explaining that being gay is not a lifestyle choice but is how you are born– persons of faith can understand why religion must no longer be misused to justify hostile attitudes and actions toward LGBT people. These stories, told by the people who have been the subject of or witness to religion-based bigotry serve as a powerful tool to begin changing the hearts and minds of persons of faith.

        Faith in America’s efforts—and those of many other LGBT organizations—are working. A recent Gallup poll that showed a majority of Americans no longer consider homosexuality as immoral and we believe this is in large part due to the efforts to show Americans that being gay is not a lifestyle choice. Personal stories move people.

        The following are core messages you can use when addressing those espousing religion-based bigotry.

        1. Religion-based bigotry causes enormous harm to LGBT people, especially young, vulnerable teens.

        More than a million LGBT teens are suffering debilitating depression because their families and religious institutions see them as deviants. Suicide rates amongst LGBT youth are four times higher than those of heterosexual youth.

        LGBT people are victims of discrimination and bigotry, which are often justified and promoted by religious teaching that says homosexuality is immoral, sinful or abominable. If we don’t talk about it, no one will know how much hurt and suffering it causes. It is particularly important for those in the religious movable middle to hear this, because no concept is more antithetical to the faith values of love and compassion than causing harm to others.

        In 2008, Faith in America published CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America. Traveling the country promoting CRISIS has allowed us to see firsthand the transformative power of telling stories about our youth. People don’t want to hurt children. They may not have sympathy for an adult advocacy leader talking about job discrimination or marriage, but they do sympathize with vulnerable teenagers.

        For example, Dr. David Gushee, a Christian ethicist, author and Southern Baptist minister, wrote the following about CRISIS in the June 2009 issue of Christian Century (a mainline Protestant publication going to 70,000 members, largely clergy): “As an evangelical Christian whose career has been spent in the South, I must say I find it scandalous that the most physically and psychologically dangerous place to be (or even appear to be) gay or lesbian in America is in the most religiously conservative families, congregations and regions of this country. Many of the most disturbing stories in this volume come from the Bible Belt. This marks an appalling Christian moral failure.”

        When people of faith understand they are causing harm, it creates a conflict or question – can causing such harm to others exist comfortably with the core faith principles of love and compassion? That inner conflict will be resolved in two ways: 1) Avoidance that results in unresolved inner conflict; or 2) Analysis and reconsideration of their attitude or belief.

        It is this conflict – a deeper analysis, process or journey – that our messaging guidelines can help foster in the minds and hearts of the religious middle. This process of change does not happen overnight. But by sharing the harm caused by religiously based rejection and condemnation of gay people, we can plant the seeds of change.

      • 2. Sexual orientation is a natural part of a human’s being whether it be heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual.

        Studies have shown that if a person believes sexual orientation is a choice, they are 70% more likely to be against LGBT equal rights (2007 Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs Survey). Conversely, if a person believes sexual orientation is part of how you are created, they are 70% more likely to be in favor of LGBT equal rights.

        We’ve learned there is something much deeper here that we need to address. The religious teachings that many people of faith embrace play an important role in whether people see being gay as a choice. Many people of faith believe:

        Heterosexuality is for all people the normal and natural expression of sexuality. Homosexuality is a conscious choice to deviate from this norm.
        Gay people, according to religious teachings, are committing a sin and are an abomination.
        Gay people are making a conscious choice to go against God’s will or order.
        If it is a conscious choice, children who are exposed to gay teachers or gay married couples might CHOOSE to be gay.
        We must educate Americans on the scientific facts about sexual orientation. Homosexuality is not a deliberate choice. It is innate to some people. One’s sexual orientation is not a deliberate decision to act against God’s will.

        Just as religion-based bigotry underlies most anti-gay attitudes, the belief that homosexuality is a sinful choice is the cornerstone of religion-based prejudice against gay people. We cannot ignore it and hope to change the attitude of someone who has been taught that homosexuality is sinful. But when we offer someone a better understanding of sexual orientation, we can affect their mindset without getting mired in a never-ending theological discussion.

        Rebutting the argument that being gay is a choice is important for another reason as well. Most persons of faith, conservatives in particular, are familiar with how church teaching in the past has justified treating women and African Americans as inferior. They know that religious communities have, for the most part, rejected such prejudices as harmful and misguided. By emphasizing that being gay is an innate condition, we can get them to understand that it is equally wrong to treat others unfairly based solely on their sexual orientation.

        3. Religion-based bigotry against LGBT people is wrong…just as it was wrong to use religious teachings to justify discrimination against Native Americans, African Americans, minority religious groups, woman and interracial couples.

        Connecting the dots between historical bigotry against other groups and the attitudes of some people today toward homosexuality is one of the most effective ways to educate people about the denial of equal rights to the LGBT community.

        Most people know that, historically, religion has been used to justify discrimination against women, religious minorities and people of color. Putting anti-gay religious beliefs in this historical context can be a powerful tool in connecting discrimination that most Americans today accept as morally wrong and the discrimination faced by LGBT people. By citing historical instances of religion-based bigotry and prejudice, you allow people to be more comfortable with attitudinal change – they realize they are not stepping out alone against a commonly accepted viewpoint but rather following historical progress toward justice and equality.

        When talking about the misuse of religion to justify discrimination in the past, it is important not to say that the LGBT community’s struggle with discrimination is exactly the same as the Civil Rights Movement. Rather, the point is that religion-based bigotry has been a common denominator of injustice toward many groups in American society’s past. When given a chance, many people will see the underlying historical pattern of using religious teachings and beliefs to justify harmful discrimination.

        There is another benefit to citing other times in the past when religious teachings have been used to justify discrimination. Many times, when people of faith are challenged about their anti-gay views, they cite biblical verses or other religious texts as a safe haven when they are unable to articulate why they hold prejudiced attitudes toward LGBT people. Instead of telling people that their interpretation is wrong, you can remind them that other religious texts have been used in the past to justify attitudes and laws that are recognized today as morally wrong and unjust – such as discrimination against women, people of color and religious minorities.

        History provides the moral judgment, and we do not have to be theologians engaged in scriptural debates to point people to the judgment rendered by history.

  3. Sad to see from afar that Hawaii has nutty people too. I don't know HI's politics but it is funny that McDermott says he loves that chairwoman to death. christians (lower case) are fond of loving people to death.

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