Downtown parkDual demonstrations at Mililani Mall were an exercise in freedom of speech, but the other side wasn't listening.
hosts two groups
The groups disagree on the
issue of same-sex marriage;
five couples exchange vows
By Mary Adamski
The downtown park yesterday was the announced terminal of a gay rights circle-island march, with a finale that featured five couples exchanging vows of commitment.
The Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values headed for the same location, 50 people with signs who shouted chants against same-gender unions. But after a few words before the cameras by leader Mike Gabbard, the Alliance group left the scene before the Civil Unions-Civil Rights Movement parade of about 100 arrived.
"In the spirit of aloha, the people say no; same-sex marriage has got to go," chanted the Alliance group.
"Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Homophobia's got to go," was the gay rights rhyme minutes later.
Gabbard said: "It's unfortunate that homosexual activists are trying to force their values down the throats of the people of Hawaii, and again resorting to name calling to those who disagree."
His comments were intermittently drowned out by the shouts of a few hecklers. He said later: "I'm a firm believer in letting ideas out into the marketplace."
As they packed up their signs to leave, James and Marie-Francoise Mitchell said they have experienced bigotry because of their mixed-race marriage. But James said to them the issue is not one of discrimination. "We really don't see God in same-sex unions. Otherwise we'd like to embrace these people, we have nothing against these people," he said.
"It's civil rights and it concerns everybody," said Aubri Bush, a student at University of Hawaii-Hilo, one of five people to walk the entire 120 miles around Oahu. She identified herself as a heterosexual person who supports the cause because "it's why we're in this life, to change the world."
The Rev. Steven Kindle of First Christian Church blessed the pairs exchanging vows saying, "May each couple be afforded help in a community that is united."
Euphemia Tawney strolled up on her way back from the Social Security Administration office. "What do they think they're doing? Two women can't have children," she commented. "I was just curious, I want to go back home and tell people how stupid these people are."
Parrish Fitts, another passerby, said: "I do agree with protesting against hate crimes. Everyone has a right to equality and a right to life. But the lifestyle they are promoting goes against what the Bible says."
One of the march organizers, Tracy LaGondino, said the march was a success, generating "mostly positive" response. "The few who were against us were passionately against us."