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Waiting 38 Years To Be Married

Jim Nabors, a longtime Hawaii resident, has finally tied the knot. I say finally because he and his partner, Stan Cadwallader, have been together 38 years.

Yes, 38 years. I know straight people whose multiple marriages don’t add up to that long.

It says something that they had to wait so many years to make their union legal in the eyes of the law. It should shock anyone with a conscience that these two people – who clearly love and cherish each other, who have seen each other through thick and thin, sickness and health – did not and still do not have all legal rights as a couple, rights afforded every one of their fellow Americans who happened to be born straight. And it’s too bad they had to go all the way to Seattle to do it.

Jim Nabors and Stan Cadwallader in 2010. Yu Shing Ting photo

But it also illustrates just how far the country has come in a relatively short time. The New York Times reported just a month ago, “In a Pew poll conducted in October, 49 percent of respondents said they favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, and 40 percent were opposed. Four years earlier, in August 2008, the numbers were just about reversed: 39 percent in favor and 52 percent opposed.”

It’s even more encouraging when you look at demographics. A Gallup poll conducted in November 2012 found that an impressive 73 percent of people ages 18 to 29 said they favor same-sex marriage.

As I’ve said in this column before, the best hope for equal rights for all rests with the young.

I count President Obama among that group. He made history by using the word “gay” in his Inaugural Address: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

Here in Hawaii, we have a chance to make things right for “our gay brothers and sisters,” and, by extension, for all of us. There is a hui of civil rights organizations called Hawaii United for Marriage that is dedicated to the issue of marriage equality. It is backing Senate Bill 1369 (and House Bill 1109), which “recognizes marriages between individuals of the same sex. Extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-couples receive.”

We have the opportunity to get on the right side of history. And we can affirm our ideals as a country and a state that believes equality is more than a word, it really is a way of life and a part of our American soul.

Congratulations to Mr. Nabors, who is 82, and his new husband, who is 64. You waited a long, long time. I congratulate you, salute you and wish you well.