Crowd slams same-sex unions


POSTED: Monday, February 23, 2009

Thousands rallied at the state Capitol yesterday through prayer and music to oppose a civil union bill moving through the state Legislature.

The bill would allow couples of the same sex to enter into a civil union, giving them the same benefits, protections and responsibilities as marriage.

Adults and children wore red to symbolize the blood of Jesus and opposition to the bill, said Dennis Arakaki, interim executive director of the Hawaii Family Forum, a Christian group that organized the rally.

“;(The bill) is going to be bad for Hawaii,”; he said, adding that it is deceptive because it portrays civil unions as different from marriage but promises the same rights.

“;It's going to open up Hawaii to a lot of potential lawsuits because when you promise equality to a special class of people, that gives them the right to sue,”; he said. “;That might require changes in our textbooks, in our schools in what is being taught, as far as access to facilities (churches). All of these things are going to be affected by so-called equality.”;

John Zeuzheim, 40, heard about the rally yesterday during his shift as a Honolulu police officer, then put together a signboard supporting civil unions and walked the sidewalk of the Capitol—possibly the only visible civil union supporter.

“;I don't think (civil unions are) demoralizing anybody's marriage anywhere in the Union,”; he said. “;They're not asking for anything more than the same recognition straight couples have.”;

;[Preview]Thousands Protest At State Capitol

They rallied to make sure their oppositon to the controversial unions bill is heard.

Watch ]


He said civil unions represent civil rights for gays and lesbians.

“;Some of these freedoms should not be up for popular vote,”; he said. “;Blacks had to fight for their rights, and it didn't end up being a popularity contest to see if enough whites decided it was OK. They're just asking for equal.”;

He said religious beliefs should be separate from the government because banning civil unions perpetuates discrimination.

“;As long as the government supports same-sex couples being less than married couples in the law, that gives all the people that wish to be biased, ignorant or prejudiced backing and support by their government,”; he said.

Phallon Debose saw Zeuzheim walking the sidewalk and pinned a rainbow pin on him. She was accosted by a man holding a sign opposing same-sex marriage.

“;They're kind of pushing for hate and trying to instill a fear in people, and they're not practicing what they preach,”; she said. “;It's about civil liberties, not marriage. All we're asking for is equality.

“;I think they're just trying to make a big show,”; she said.

House Bill 444, which passed the House earlier this month, will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. If the committee votes against the bill, the Senate may force the bill to the floor for a vote.

The Interfaith Alliance, another group of churches, will hold a rally this morning at 10 in support of the civil unions bill.

Many at the rally yesterday opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions because of their religion or because the state already voted to allow the Legislature to ban same-sex marriage in 1998.

Jalee Fuselier of the North Shore said sexuality is a choice, “;a lifestyle choice. It's not like a race.”;

Six-year-old Bailee Camara wore a shirt supporting traditional marriage and carried a small stop sign that said, “;Stop civil union bill.”;

“;We have to make our voices heard,”; said her father, Lionel Camara. He said gays and lesbians can find the same rights without civil unions.

“;Marriage is to procreate,”; said his mother, Cheryl Camara. “;If we have this (bill), we are going to end the human race, and our kids are going to have this in our schools.”;

She said hospitals and insurance companies should change their rules, giving same-sex couples the rights they want, rather than the state changing the laws.

“;If they change it, this is the beginning of the end,”; she said.