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Politics // Just Thoughts
Bob Jones

A National Embarrassment

Proponents and opponents of gay marriage chant in the state Capitol rotunda Nov. 6 as lawmakers consider legalizing same-sex marriage in Honolulu. AP photo, Oskar Garcia

Proponents and opponents of gay marriage chant in the state Capitol rotunda Nov. 6 as lawmakers consider legalizing same-sex marriage in Honolulu. AP photo, Oskar Garcia

It would be wrong to label Hawaii police union president Tenari Ma’afala as the village idiot for his anti-same-gender-marriage and patently homophobic remarks last week at the Legislature.

Yes, he is clearly against same-gender marriage. Yes, he is clearly homophobic because he said he’d pull his daughter out of school if she were going to be taught about homosexuality in class.

But religious passion (he always wears a cross) does not a village idiot make. Often we’re dealing with lack of a first-rate education or family strictures.

I respect all whose faith prohibits them from acknowledging evolution, other religions, the probability there is no heaven or hell, or that there are “incurable” homosexuals.

But village idiot means a totally silly or nonsensical person. Ma’afala is not that. He’s misled and factually challenged.

l) The same-gender act has no law-enforcement provision. Saying he’d never as a policeman honor such a law is meaningless.

2) Teaching about homosexuality in school? Hardly needed. Kids know more about it than he does. We certainly will teach about sexual discrimination law in social studies, just as we do about racial discrimination and no-cross-race marriage laws.

Our main concern should be that the spokesman for our unionized police has embarrassed us in national media:

“Hawaii Police Officer Tenari Ma’afala’s Shocking Testimony Against Same-Sex Marriage” – Huffington Post

“Police Leader: I Won’t Enforce Gay Marriage Law” – Drudge Report

Ma’afala hasn’t been Mr. No Publicity during his career. A policeman beat a drug charge by showing that he had a doctor’s permit to use marijuana to ameliorate an illness. Ma’afala defended that by saying, “There’s no way we could know an officer’s (medical marijuana use) unless the officer voluntarily comes forward and says that.” Then, when District 7 Capt. Calvin Tong ordered odometer checks on Manoa patrol cars to make sure cops were patrolling and not just parking during night shifts, the cops went on a sick-out. Ma’afala gave quiet support to the sick-out by saying only that he’d never heard of checking odometers by HPD managers before, so why now?

In this same-gender-marriage and general homosexuality issue, the problem for the community and HPD is this: You have to belong to the union to be a police officer. Your union chief basically has said he does not approve of homosexuality. How does that square with police recruitment? It doesn’t. It seriously hinders diversity – as in the old days when it wasn’t possible for a woman to make it into HPD’s officer corps and she had to quietly suffer sexual harassment.

So Ma’afala isn’t a village idiot, but it was plainly idiotic testimony he offered at the Legislature.

It’s hard for me to see the fine line of difference.


Re: my story last week of motorist Carol Egan being ticketed on a metered road owned by Ala Moana Hotel, despite her handicap placard. The hotel says she’s right, deserves her money back and is sending her a letter of apology.

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