Clergy rebut chargeBy Mary Adamski
Their opposition to same-gender marriage is not an anti-homosexual stand, said a group of Hawaii religious leaders.
"We believe God sees marriage as that bond between man and woman," said the Rev. John Honold of Hope Chapel in Kapolei. "God does not hate the homosexual. We're talking about making a choice."
Honold and representatives of about 20 other churches gathered at the state Capitol yesterday to counter a Wednesday news conference by eight Protestant ministers who charged that there is a theme of intolerance in the campaign against same-gender marriage.
"Personal attacks on those with whom you disagree, such as the attacks levied yesterday, are the real forms of intolerance that serve only to divide the community," said the Rev. Marc Alexander of the Hawaii Catholic Conference.
The two groups of religious leaders are divided on the issue which will be on the Nov. 3 ballot. The question will be whether the state Constitution shall be revised to allow the Legislature to limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman.
The Wednesday gathering of Methodist, Lutheran and United Church of Christ clergy advocated a no vote, saying such a limit would be a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.
Yesterday, the representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Roman Catholic diocese, the Muslim Association of Hawaii, Baptist, Assembly of God, Calvary Chapels and other, nondenominational churches advocated a yes vote on the constitutional question.
"Homosexual marriage is not a right," said the Rev. Bill Stonebraker of Calvary Chapel Honolulu. "Homosexuality is a choice people make, a lifestyle people choose." He said if the amendment is passed, "it will lead to the moral decay of Hawaii."
Stonebraker said the critical clergy group "are not tolerant to a view opposed to their view . . . to people's belief that is based on the Bible."
Television commercials by Save Traditional Marriage, which show gay men embracing, were attacked as inflammatory and prejudicial by the Wednesday ministers' coalition. Alexander said yesterday that the ads "show the truth with charity and clarity."
Honold said: "I would have preferred that they tried something different. I understand the emotion they arouse." When a viewpoint is presented so emphatically, "it has the effect of bullying." Honold, on the pastoral board of Hawaii Family Forum, said he prefers the educational format that group uses in promoting passage of the amendment.
He said he is offended by advertising by Protect Our Constitution which defines the issue as a matter of civil rights. "They're saying that if I vote this way, I'm not a good American. I can vote yes and I'm still a good citizen."
Honold said: "I don't like this, when we appear before Hawaii as divided."