HONOLULU — Senators in the largely Democratic state of Hawaii overwhelmingly passed legislation this week to legalize same-sex ‘marriage,’ sending the bill to the House for a vote.
The measure resulted in much debate on both sides of the issue, and at times included religious references.
“Pope Francis said, ‘Who am I to judge?’ I ask, ‘Who am I to deny?'” declared Senator Jill Tokuda, who spoke in support of SB1.
“[P]arents should not have to worry about their children being taught about homosexuality in public schools,” stated Senator Mike Gabbard, who expressed worries about where the legislation might lead. He explained that he has been called a hater and a Nazi for disagreeing with the homosexual lifestyle.
Thousands of Hawaii residents also surrounded the capitol building on Monday to participate in a rally opposing the redefining of marriage.
“We estimate that 10,000 people were at the capitol … to oppose Senate action,” said Jim Hochberg, president of Hawaii Family Advocates, told the Hawaii Reporter.
He noted that rallies took place in other cities throughout Hawaii as well.
“That means that potentially 10,000 to 12,000 residents of Hawaii took time out of their busy schedules to show the legislature that they understand that marriage should remain between one man and one woman,” Hochberg said.
Some testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved the legislation before sending it on the to the full Senate.
“[Homosexuality] is an abomination,” declared Strider Didymous. “[Those who walk this] deviant path pollute their own bodies and give themselves over to Satan.”
“They claim to be Christian, but they are not pono, not right,” said Senator Roz Baker. “There is no place in Hawaii for this.”
The bill passed 20-4 on Wednesday, and moved to the House the following day, where thousands again turned out to voice their opinion on the matter.
“This is about the preservation of family, morality of our community, and the protection of religious beliefs,” Didymous stated, who attended the House hearing as well. “What about the First Amendment rights of us [Christians]?”
“I’m Christian and in a civil union,” Congressional candidate Kathryn Xian told those gathered. “The Christian community is divided on what is Gospel.”
Some agreed that concerns remain over the religious exemptions found in the law, which protects churches as long as they do not perform any weddings on church property for profit.
“Ensuring that no clergy or other officer of any religious organization will be required to solemnize any marriage, in accordance with the Hawaii State Constitution and the United States Constitution, and clarifying that unless a religious organization allows use of its facilities or grounds by the general public for weddings for a profit, such organization shall not be required to make its facilities or grounds available for solemnization of any marriage celebration,” it outlines.
“How will the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission determine whether the church qualifies? Will a financial audit of the church be necessary?” Hochberg asked reporters. “The language is simply not clear. We do not know. It will ultimately be sorted out by the courts. And that leaves churches vulnerable and at risk.”
If the House approves the measure, Hawaii will become the 15th state to allow same-sex nuptials. A vote is expected in the days ahead.