Oahu marchA candlelight memorial for hate crime victims marked the end of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observance and the beginning of a civil rights march around Oahu.
The educational walk against
discrimination will wrap
up on Jan. 22
By Mary Adamski
"His message of the redemptive power of love and nonviolence applies to all marginalized and disenfranchised people," Dr. Rodney Powell told an audience at the state Capitol last night.
The program and vigil were sponsored by the Civil Unions-Civil Rights Movement, which seeks legislation to increase penalties for hate crimes, ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and extend to same-sex couples the same rights and benefits as married couples. Supporters today were to begin an eight-day educational march that will proceed in stages around the island through Jan. 22.
A group of Christian ministers that held a Sunday news conference to protest participation by the gay rights group in the King Day parade yesterday provided a focus for speakers at the program on "The King Legacy of Love and Non violence."
Powell, who was a college student when he participated in the 1960s civil rights campaign, said: "Had (King) lived to this day, he would not have accepted the evil of conservative Christians in their virulent oppression and persecution of homosexuals."
The anti-gay climate today is "more virulent than any prejudice I have ever experienced as a black man," said Powell, a retired physician who lectures at the University of Hawaii school of medicine.
Discrimination against homosexuals is "the last acceptable bigotry in America," the Rev. Steven Kindle told the crowd of about 100 people.
"Our problem is not homophobia but a culture that can produce such a thing."
The pastor of the First Christian Church, Kindle directed remarks to the African-American ministers who opposed adding a gay rights element to the King Day celebration. "You are doing what white people did to you, using the Bible against them. The Bible affirmed slavery and it's wrong. The Bible condoned segregation and it's wrong. The Bible condemns homosexuals and it's wrong."
Mary Lou Wallner of Elgin, Ill., told the group, "I committed a hate crime ... of not loving my daughter unconditionally because she was a homosexual." Wallner generated tears as she told of her evolution in understanding since her daughter's suicide four years ago.
Powell said, "Nonviolent resistance is not to defeat or humiliate the opponent but to win his understanding, to awaken a sense of moral shame in our opponents."
The march is to resume tomorrow, going from Kahala Mall to Waimanalo Beach Park.