HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two of Hawaii's leading candidates for governor – who both oppose same-sex marriage – chose not to testify, submit written testimony or speak out at rallies about the subject last fall during the special legislative session that resulted in the state legalizing gay marriage.
Independent candidate for Governor Mufi Hannemann explained why he stayed on the sidelines for the debate during the special session last October and November.
"I just felt that it was not an appropriate forum. I wasn't in office. It was clear where I stood. And I may have gotten in the way of perhaps, the governor and others making me the target," Hannemann said.
"Unlike the Republican Party, where it was part of the Republican Party platform, I was still a Democrat at the time, and it was clear that I would have been out of step and out of touch with the rest of the Democrats," said Hannemann, the former Honolulu mayor and a Mormon.
Republican governor candidate Duke Aiona, who also opposes same-sex marriage, said he attended a couple of rallies at the Capitol last fall, but was a spectator and did not address the rallies or testify against Senate bill 1.
"Obviously, I wasn't in support of SB 1. Everybody, I think, when I say everybody, the people who know me know what my position was," said Aiona, who is a Roman Catholic and served as lieutenant governor for eight years.
Aiona said he didn't feel the need to speak out on the issue.
"They had prominent, credible men and women from the community that publicly testified. I don't know what more I would have added," Aiona said.
"For them this was smart politics," said UH Manoa political science professor Colin Moore, an HNN political analyst.
Moore said there's a good political reason for these candidates not emphasizing their opposition to same-sex marriage.
"It does rally a certain base, a certain socially conservative Republican base, and you want to signal to them, but you also don't want to turn off voters who support that, who might be fiscally conservative but relatively socially liberal," Moore said. "They want to get socially conservative voters out to support them, but that's not really a way to win a general election here."
Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Ige is a state senator who voted in favor of same-sex marriage during last year's special session. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law shortly after the special session, making gay marriage legal in Hawaii beginning late last year. Hawaii is one of 30 states allowing same-sex marriage.