I am especially wondering if Strider Didymus will be pacing the sidewalk along Beretania Street, carrying his cross-shaped sign that reads, “Jesus Loves You, repent or perish.”
Didymus, in his bandana, blues jeans and black vest, is a bit of a fixture at the Capitol. He has testified at numerous hearings, invariably beginning by stating that he has come to the Legislature on behalf of his “board of directors” — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Didymus’ moral views are quite clear: homosexuality is a sin against God.
This year alone, he has spoken out against civil unions and the nomination of Sabrina McKenna to the Hawaii Supreme Court.
He has also testified against gambling and death with dignity. If there is legislation with a moral dimension, you can be sure Didymus will be there.
Didymus may go to greater lengths than some others, but many of his views are shared by tens of thousands of people in Hawaii.
What I have noticed from my years covering the Capitol is that many of the very same people opposed to these issues — and others like marijuana, emergency contraception and the teaching of evolution — keep turning up year after year.
The same goes for people on the other side of the debate — Mitch Kahle of Hawaii Citizens for Separation of Church and State, for example.
I don’t want to appear to be choosing sides (although I do have my own views). But, whether you favor one side or the other, you might agree that each absolutely believes it is correct.
How do you reach compromise between such opposites? Maybe you don’t. How do you build a bridge from one side to the other? Maybe you can’t.
That’s where the Legislature comes in. They have to do the job for us. And we live with the consequences, until the next election.
Speaking of Kahle and Didymus, let me share with you an ironic vignette:
As the Senate prepared for a floor vote on civil unions last week, Didymus tried to bring his cross into Senate chambers. He was stopped by Sergeant At Arms Ben Villaflor. Standing a few feet away was Kahle, who himself had been evicted by Villaflor last year when Kahle disrupted a Senate invocation.
(Not long after that incident I tried to interview Didymus. He asked whether I worked for a publication that was pro-civil unions or anti-civil unions, and when I hesitated in my answer he made up his mind and walked away.)
It’s not just legislation that reveals Hawaii’s religious divide.
The governor’s race, for example, featured opponents in both the primary and general election who shared very different moral beliefs that were almost certainly a factor in the election.
I am not naive; I realize that this is how it works in a democracy.
Yet, fighting over same-sex rights, drugs, euthanasia, public prayer, creationism, casinos and birth control has been going on for decades.
Wednesday will be a milestone, though.
I expect lots of smiles and hugs at Washington Place. Tears, too.
If there are protest outside, I suspect there will be frowns instead of smiles.
And then Hawaii will move on to the next battle(s).
And the same lines will be drawn.
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