The Hawaii state Senate passed the Steven Tyler Act on Tuesday (or more officially Hawaii Senate Bill 465), a bill that was personally championed by the Aerosmith singer, which aims to protect the privacy of celebrities in an increasingly fraught war against paparazzi.
According to the Associated Press, Tyler, who bought a $4.8 million home in Maui in January 2012, first proposed the law to Hawaiian Sen. Kalani English after he experienced a paparazzi encounter that he felt had invaded his personal life. Tyler claimed that photographers had caused undue emotional distress to his family by publishing private photos of him and his girlfriend, Erin Brady, in a national publication.
“Being a personality, no matter where we go we get shots — it’s part of the dealio. As my mom said, ‘Ydonou asked for it, Steven,’” Tyler told a Honolulu court during a hearing on the matter in mid-February. “But when I’m in my own home and I’m taking a shower or changing clothes or eating or spending Christmas with my children ... it hurts.”
“The paradise of Hawaii is a magnet for celebrities who just want a peaceful vacation,” Tyler said. “As a person in the public eye, I know the paparazzi are there and we have to accept that. But when they intrude into our private space, disregard our safety and the safety of others, that crosses a serious line that shouldn't be ignored."
Although the measure has gained national media attention, some detractors say it violates the First Amendment. The bill was overwhelmingly supported by state senators, with 23 members voting for it, but the state Senate’s sole Republican member, Sen. Sam Slom, called the piece of legislation a joke.
“We have been the butt of many editorials and jokes across the country for this proposed legislation," Sen. Slom said, in a speech opposing the bill. He went on to describe the proposed bill as an attack on free speech, arguing that Hawaii already has extensive privacy laws in place, and that to pass an additional bill would be not only unnecessary, but could also be interpreted as unfairly catering to a wealthy class of Hawaii habitants.
"We're the only state in the Union that has privacy in our constitution. We have a very strong privacy law, even penalties for egregious behavior,” Slom said. “So to pass this bill for one type of people -- celebrities, particularly on Maui -- I think is really inappropriate.”
"My final remarks to Steven Tyler as he sang so eloquently are, `Dream on, dream on,"' Slom concluded with a touch of humor.
The bill also faced opposition from Majority Policy Leader, Sen. Les Ihara. But the rest of the state Senate seemed more swayed by Sen. English’s optimistic outlook that the bill could help drive more tourism to Hawaii.
Tyler rallied additional support for the bill from his personal friend and fellow musician, Mick Fleetwood. Other famous musicians like Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Neil Diamond and Ozzy Osbourne also lent their support, submitting written statements advocating for the new piece of legislation.
The bill will now proceed to the House for deliberation.