News (USA)

Openly gay lawmaker votes against Hawaii same-sex marriage bill

HONOLULU — An openly gay lawmaker in Hawaii may have made history Wednesday when she voted against a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

State Rep. Jo Jordan (D-Waianae) who is openly lesbian, voted against the bill on the House floor on Wednesday, becoming perhaps the first known openly gay lawmaker to vote against marriage equality.

Jo Jordan
Jo Jordan

Despite her vote, lawmakers moved the bill forward Wednesday night on its second reading by a vote of 30-18.

Jordan said she set aside her beliefs when she listened to five days of testimony during a joint committee hearing and listened with an open heart. Much of spoken public testimony during the hearing came in opposition to the bill.

Jordan estimates about 75 percent of the constituents she’s heard from have indicated they support same-sex marriage, but she’s concerned not everyone feels like they have been given a chance to participate in the process.

“Down on that floor we’re not only representing our constituency that elect us, we’re representing the 1.4 million people and that’s where I feel — that’s where my duty begins,” she said. “I set aside any of my personal feelings, thoughts or beliefs and I open myself up to the pros and cons and the dialogue to vet measures.”

A 2013 poll found that 55 percent of Hawaii voters said they support legalizing same-sex marriage, including 39 percent of voters who “strongly” favor it.

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Jordan seemed unconcerned that her vote could result in backlash from LGBT Hawaiians: “Nobody’s going to beat me up. Nobody’s going to throw me out of my (LGBT) community – I’m not quite sure of that,” she said.

Jordan still has one final opportunity to change her opinion and vote in favor of the bill when it comes up for a third reading vote on Friday.

“I will make my decision once I see the final measure,” she said.

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