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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 4:20 p.m., Monday, March 23, 2009

Members of clergy voice support for civil unions bill

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Rabbi Peter Schaktman, of Temple Emanu-El, speaks today at a press conference at the state Capitol with leaders of various Island churches. The group, part of the Family Equality Coalition, affirmed their support of a civil unions bill now in the Senate.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Faith-based supporters of civil unions lobbied state legislators today, stating that faith and civil unions are not mutually exclusive.

"Religion is a powerful motivator in our lives that some have misused to divide us," said the Rev. Douglas Pyle in an announcement prior to meeting legislators. "We believe that our convictions and those of hundreds of thousands of Hawaii residents lead us to understanding, acceptance, love and social justice."

Clergy and other "voices of faith" rallied at the state Capitol in support of House Bill 444 that would grant certain rights to civil unions now reserved for married couples.

The faith-based support comes on the heels of public support for the measure from civil rights and native Hawaiian organizations, said Paul Gracie, co-chairman of the Family Equality Coalition.

According to Gracie, a newly released poll by QMark Research showed 81 percent of respondents believed that all families in Hawaii should be treated equally under the law, regardless of sexual orientation or preference. The poll was funded by the Family Equality Coalition.