Posted at 7:33 p.m., Thursday, July 3, 2003
Parade can exclude gays, judge rules
By Mary Vorsino
U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor denied the American Civil Liberties Union's claim for a temporary restraining order against Saturday's Family Day Parade through Waikiki. Organizers had turned away participants because of their sexual preference.
Gillmor said that if the parade was indeed co-sponsored by the city, gays and lesbians could not be excluded.
But she agreed with defense attorneys who argued in a hearing on Tuesday that the parade is separate from the city's Family Day celebration as a whole a daylong series of events including fireworks and an outdoor movie and is being independently organized by the Hawaii Christian Coalition.
In her decision, Gillmor said that because the parade is privately funded, "they may exclude a voice that they find objectionable to their message."
The ACLU of Hawaii backed the three gay groups in the lawsuit. Legal Director Brent White said the groups "are shocked and disappointed" about the ruling. He said the decision "shows that we still have a long way to go."
"It's really a disgrace," he said. "But just because you lose one battle doesn't mean you give up."
The groups claimed in the lawsuit that the city provided substantial support to the coalition.
White said in the lawsuit's hearing on Tuesday that 12 of the 20 members of the parade committee are city employees. He added that the city Parks Department was to provide cleanup for the parade, which is not typically offered to private parades, and that city vehicles were to be used in the event. He also said that the city provided postage for letters from the coalition publicizing the parade.
Gillmor said early city advertisements that included broad references to the parade and the cosponsorship of events were later revised to make it clear that the Christian Coalition was the sponsor of the event. The city said in court documents that it won't provide vehicles or other city services to the coalition's parade.
In a statement released after the decision, Mayor Jeremy Harris said he was "elated that the parade will go on as planned.
"We are very pleased that the court did not allow this Kids' Day event to become a political battleground over gay and lesbian issues," he said.
Garret Hashimoto, state chairman of the Hawaii Christian Coalition, could not immediately be reached for comment on the ruling, but had said he planned to call the Saturday parade off if Gillmor had ruled in favor of allowing gays to participate.
White said members of the groups The Center; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Family Network; and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and others will participate in a protest against the ruling on Saturday morning in front of the Honolulu Zoo, near the parade's finish.
Gillmor's decision came days after Honolulu's Gay Pride Weekend, which included a parade last Saturday. It also followed a historic month for gays and lesbians, including Canada's legalization of same-sex marriages and the Supreme Court's ruling striking down bans on gay sex.