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Saturday, January 13, 2001

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
The group "Civil Unions-Civil Rights" will begin an around-the-
island protest march Monday, calling for equality for gays and
lesbians. Holly Huber, left, Mitch Kahle, Michael Golojuch,
Tracy LaGondino and Nancy Roberts hold a coffin they plan
to carry on the march. A candlelight vigil around the coffin in
the state Capitol courtyard Monday will memorialize 66 victims
of hate crimes, including two Hawaii men.

march seeks end
to bias against gays

The 'legacy of love and nonviolence'
will also urge tougher
hate-crime laws

By Mary Adamski

On Monday, when a Waikiki parade and rally celebrate the success of the 1960s civil rights movement, there'll be a wake across town to memorialize some civil rights failures.

The Civil Unions-Civil Rights Movement will sponsor a 6 p.m. program of speakers on the Martin Luther King Jr. "legacy of love and nonviolence" at the state Capitol auditorium.

It will be followed by a candlelight vigil around an open coffin at the Capitol courtyard to memorialize 66 victims of hate crimes, including two Hawaii men.

"The 1960s movement put an end to racial discrimination. Today we want it to reach out and cover all minorities," said Tracy LaGondino, Civil Unions-Civil Rights chairwoman.

The organization seeks a law change to ban discrimination in housing on the basis of sexual orientation. It also seeks government provisions assuring same-gender couples the same rights and benefits as married couples, as well as legislation increasing penalties for hate crimes.

The vigil will begin an eight-day nonviolent demonstration, a "March for Equality," with demonstrators circling Oahu to educate people and dramatize their efforts on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The 12-pound coffin containing the names of hate crime victims will be carried on the march to begin at 6 a.m. Tuesday at the Mohandas Gandhi statue near Honolulu Zoo.

LaGondino said housing is an area where homosexuals encounter discrimination. She and her partner Nancy Roberts did not disclose that they are a couple when they filed an application to rent their Hawaii Kai apartment. For fear of being refused, "we had to apply as legal strangers." LaGondino filed separately to rent a room in the apartment occupied by Roberts and her children.

"There are over 1,000 legal benefits, including tax, inheritance, Social Security, medical insurance, that married heterosexual couples have. We don't."

At the Jan. 22 finale of the march, Civil Unions-Civil Rights will present a petition to state Attorney General Earl Anzai. It will ask him to issue a legal opinion "clarifying the government's obligation to provide the full rights and benefits of marriage to same-gender couples wishing to obtain a legal civil union."

The finale at Mililani Mall, between Queen and Halekauwila streets, will include a symbolic commitment ceremony for seven gay and lesbian couples.

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