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Friday, March 25, 2005
USS Arizona center
THE ISSUEA new visitor center is planned to include retail operations at the memorial
The 5,000-square-foot tent has provided hot meals, trinkets and other amenities to the 1.5 million people who visit the Arizona Memorial yearly, many of whom wait for hours before boarding boats to the memorial. The present Visitor Center has only a gift shop and a small snack shop near concrete seating areas. The nearby USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park has a hot dog stand.
The tent was pitched by a company subleasing 6.6 acres between the Visitor Center and Bowfin from a joint venture that gained a 65-year lease as part of its agreement to redevelop Ford Island. The 1942-themed facility has been criticized as inappropriate by Pearl Harbor survivors, veterans and members of Hawaii's congressional delegation.
The Visitor Center has sunk about 30 inches since its construction 25 years ago and needs to be replaced. The state House is considering a nonbinding resolution calling for removal of the tent and for the new Visitor Center to be strictly nonprofit.
The new center is intended as a "gateway" to the Arizona Memorial and other Pearl Harbor attractions, mainly the Bowfin museum and the nearby USS Missouri. Keeping profit-making operations out of the center would be too restrictive.
George Sullivan, chairman of the Arizona Memorial Museum Association, says the for-profit operations at the new center should provide visitors with "the best out of their time there" without impinging on the nonprofit operations. All the operations should be appropriate to the somber nature of the site.
THE ISSUEA state Senate committee has approved a bill banning such discrimination in housing but exempting religious organizations.
Hawaii law recognizes "reciprocal beneficiaries," assuring gay partners rights such as family and bereavement leaves, probate rights and hospital visitation. However, while a state law also makes it "public policy" to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, public accommodation, housing and union practice, the ban in reality extends only to employment.
Past Legislatures have hesitated to extend the discrimination ban to housing because various courts have held that landlords may refuse to rent property to unmarried couples on religious grounds because they consider sex out of wedlock to be sinful. Brigham Young University-Hawaii complained that such a ban could force it to provide housing to gays, lesbians and others whose lifestyles collide with Mormon beliefs.
Gay and transgender advocates and BYU-Hawaii representatives met and agreed to exempt religious organizations from the measure, and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the exemption. "We heard what people's concerns were, and I believe we came out with something that was very useful," said William Woods, a longtime gay advocate in Hawaii.
Not everyone is happy. Opponents complain that the bill still would force landlords to rent housing to couples whose lifestyles conflict with their religious beliefs. If the bill is approved, the state should be prepared to argue in court that the right of sexual orientation should prevail over religious beliefs as a matter of public policy.
|Dennis Francis, Publisher||Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor
|Frank Bridgewater, Editor
|Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor
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