Thousands gather at state Capitol to oppose civil unions
Thousands of people converged at the state Capitol today to oppose civil unions and call for lawmakers to preserve marriage as between a man and a woman.
The rally, sponsored by the Hawaiçi Family Forum, was intended to energize religious conservatives to vote and influence the September primary and November general election.
But it was also a demonstration of the potential backlash lawmakers face if they move forward with civil unions.
The state Senate is expected to consider a civil-unions bill soon after the session opens on Wednesday. The bill would give same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.
Many at the rally made no distinction between civil unions and marriage, even though the bill does not redefine marriage, which under state law is between a man and a woman.
This is your house. And this is the Lords house, Dennis Arakaki of the Hawaiçi Family Forum told the rally, a sea of white shirts that spilled from the Rotunda and extended across the mauka side of the Capitol.
At St. Clements Episcopal Church, meanwhile, more than 100 people representing 13 different religious groups came together in support of equal rights for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.
There is a large faith-based group made up of different religions who are in support of equal rights and the civil-unions bill that will be before the Legislature, said Tambry Young, co-chair of Equality Hawaiçi, a group working for equal rights.