"When this issue [marriage equality] started arising, I had to think to myself, you need to stay grounded in what your root beliefs are. I've won an election, and sworn to uphold the constitution of the state as well as the United States. You have an obligation to this institution. You really have to think differently, because you are being watched and it is a position that you need to respect even while sitting in your seat.
"I always have taken my personal hat off, my personal beliefs away from it, and said, 'Look at the substance, what is the measure, have you heard all the dialogue, have you vetted everything? Have all your questions been answered? And are you willing to make a decision for the 1.4 million people in the state?' For your constituents, but also for the whole state.
"I know who I am, I'm grounded in who I am, I've never hid who I am. And when I walked in this door, the GLBT community came knocking on my door and they said, 'We're so glad you're here. Come on in here.' And I'm like, 'I'm Jo, I'm a legislator, those are my hats first.'
"I know what it meant to step in this room for a kid from Waianae, who graduated from public school, who has no background, to be a female and to be GLBT on top of that. And I didn't want to come up the gate saying, 'Look at me, here I am.' Because it would distract from anything that I worked on. I have never waved my flag. I don't wear it across my chest.
"They were very good at respecting that...
"As DOMA [section] 3 fell, I was like, this is going to be big. Many of the larger groups, Equality Hawaii and national groups came to me, when stuff started bubbling up, and the governor called the special session. Then it came: 'We want you to attend this meeting. We want you to be the face.' I was honest with them: 'That's not what I want to do...'
"I totally thought I was going to get blasted by the religious community. When I walked into the hearings, I was like, those faith-based guys are going to come out. And not one of them said anything. They were more about, 'Thank you, thank you for listening.' And they didn't know who I was. Outside, I was Rep. Jordan sitting at the table. They had no idea who I was, or my lifestyle, and that's why I like it. Can we get to know each other before you know the rest of the stuff?
"It has been interesting. I am not part of any faith-based group, so I walked in thinking those were going to be the ones going, grrrr, grrrr. But unfortunately, it's been coming from my community during the hearing. I was like, 'Wow, so much for minorities that have been suppressed.' But I've got to look at it this way: Maybe they feel they've been suppressed for so long that they no longer can contain it and they are just going to lash out at anything without thinking first. But I have to keep that faith to help me not take it personally. It's not about who is right and who is wrong. It's about, are we creating a measure that meets the needs of all?
"I had come to the decision that SB1 needed to amended. It wasn't protective enough for everybody. And I truly know, my GLBT community is not going to go somewhere where they are not welcome. They are not going to go, 'Pastor, you need to marry us, even though it is against your grain.' Because they want their happy day to be a happy day. A couple isn't going to step into something that's not warm and welcoming. We're really looking at those fringe guys, those ones that pop up on the edges that say, 'You're treading on my rights, so I'm going to come and challenge you.'
"When you look at a measure, you have to consider, how do we make this the golden standard, as bulletproof as possible? My major concerns on SB1 was, first, the parental maternal rights, 57-2c, that wasn't healthy. That definitely needed to be fixed. The religious exemption was not adequate enough. And the divorce portion in there is not fair. We're talking about creating equity. They have made a provision here where you don't have to domicile here. And I totally get what they're saying, but I have some serious problems with that. We should at least make some sort of domicile in our state, so they can file for divorce here.
"I really am not happy with the exemptions. Too narrow.
"I'm not here to protect the big churches or the little churches, I'm saying we can't erode what's currently out there. We don't want to scratch at the religious protections at all, because if we don't create a measure that's bulletproof, or as close to bulletproof as possible, then the measure will go to the courts. And they will interpret it however that may be. A judge will make assumptions and make a ruling, and that will become the law of the land. So you really want us to create the legislation.
"I haven't figured out why I felt so compelled to fight for the religious exemptions, to not erode Constitutional rights. I don't belong to any particular denomination. I don't wear one of those hats. I take religion out of everything. My religion is the mountain, the aina and spiritual. Everybody finds their own religion somewhere. I have the same values as they do, but it's just a little different. When I walked into this session, that rose to the surface. Why me? Why am I trying to protect your religious rights?
"I'm still trying to figure out. I've always followed paths. I don't find the path. The path finds me. This, obviously, is a path I'm supposed to go. You're not supposed to question. Just 'OK.'
"At the end of the day, the way SB1 HD1 is written right now, walking into the third reading I can't say it is written the best that we can provide to all. If that's at the risk of not allowing same-gender couples to get married on Dec. 2, I can't stop that, I'm sorry. We want to make sure it's good. It's not about who gets to the finish line first. It's just not."
-- Quisling Hawaii Democratic State Rep. Georgia (Jo) Jordan, the first openly LGBT lawmaker in U.S. history to vote against marriage equality, explaining herself to Honolulu Magazine. Early Saturday morning (late Friday night local time), the Hawaii House gave final approval to the marriage equality bill, all but ensuring that the freedom to marry is on its way to the Aloha State. In that third reading, Jordan again betrayed her community by opposing the measure.