HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii state legislators have preliminarily approved a bill that would create a commission to address issues concerning the LGBTQ community.
A House committee voted 6-1 Wednesday to advance the bill that would create the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Plus Commission.
“It’s not always easy to pass a bill on the first attempt, and we’re hoping that people will understand it and get behind it. I’m just happy that there’s a discussion so people can know that government is not just taxes and making bills,” Democratic state Rep. Ryan Yamane said.
“My hope is that it moves forward, but the reality is that bills like this are tough to pass.”
The proposed commission would identify issues such as discrimination or violence and ensure there are efforts to research, plan and advocate for the population, including people who identify as neither male or female, identify as both or are questioning their identity, state legislators said.
The commission would also recommend government actions that would promote equal treatment and opportunities, and educate members of the community about their political rights, legislators said.
If the bill becomes law, it would be the first commission of its kind in the state, supporters said.
The lone vote against the bill came from Republican state Rep. Gene Ward.
It is unclear how much the commission would cost.
The chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s LGBT Caucus said there are no statistics on LGBTQ discrimination and violence in Hawaii, but he alleges he was verbally and physically attacked in the state for being openly gay.
“My favorite are the death threats I get when my name appears in the media too much on certain topics,” Michael Golojuch Jr. said in an interview.