One Hawaii Couple's Joy Over Marriage Equality
After a marathon hearing of testimony in the Hawaii legislative on same-sex marriage, the lawmakers stood on the right side of history this week and passed SB1, making same-sex marriage legal in the great state of Hawaii. Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into on November 13, making Hawaii the 15th state in the nation where same-sex marriage is fully equal and legal.
One couple that's been active in the fight for equal rights in Hawaii — the state where the marriage fight began — is photographer Llevellyn Lightsey and Michael Waddell, the general manager of an LGBT-friendly resort in Maui. The couple have lived in Maui since 2001. "Our ties to the islands date back over 20 years when we first started vacationing here," Waddell says. “We have lived all over the United States due to job relocations. Dealing with high-stress jobs for over 20 years, we found the Hawaiian islands to be the one place in the world where we could recharge to tackle life's challenges. We also found it to be the most accepting geography for our love. That is why we ultimately moved to Maui and call this home... We lived through the civil rights fights of the '60s and '70s in the South. We are living it again in the civil rights challenges for gay people."
Waddell manages the Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort in Kihei, a resort town on Maui's sunny southwest side. The resort caters to the LGBT community but welcomes all. The resort has been an active participant in the fight for equal rights in Hawaii. Chuck Spence, owner of the Sunseeker, says, “We are so proud to be residents of Hawaii today and as citizens of this great nation where we stand a bit more equal than we have in the past. The Aloha spirit is very much alive."
Lightsey is a professional photographer on Maui with a focus on capturing fine art, landscapes, events, and portraits. Frontiers, Spartacus Traveler, and Maui Times have all featured his work; he was also commissioned to create the cover art of the 2013 and 2014 Hawaii Pride Guide and his pictures were used on the Travel Channel show Hotel Impossible.
“The passage of same-sex marriage in Hawaii is all about civil rights,” Lightsey says. "It is not about religion, but about what you feel in your heart. After over 39 years together, we will finally be able to make it official very soon. We are so excited about the new possibilities of life commitments for both residents of Hawaii and the many thousands of visitors that will come to Hawaii to celebrate their love. It is a new day in the Hawaiian Islands and we are so proud to call Hawaii and Maui our home.”