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Monday, January 22, 2001

By Ronen Zilberman, Star-Bulletin
People for Civil Unions-Civil Rights went on an eight-day
march around Oahu, proclaiming their readiness to fight
discrimination. With rainbow flags, above, they streamed
through Kapolei yesterday. They were to conclude the
protest today at the state attorney general's office.

Civil rights group
ends 110-mile
Oahu march

Marchers say they faced
some hostility, but that most
onlookers offered support

By Leila Fujimori

A woman drove her car toward about 30 civil-rights protesters in Hauula, and some people threw rocks, eggs, fruit and pennies at them as they protested in Laie on Friday during their march around the island.

But police say the car-swerving incident caught on videotape did not appear to endanger the marchers. The group did not press charges and did not report the rock-throwing to police, said a march organizer, Noran Siegel.

"We get the occasional nasty gesture, but it's been 100-to-1 in favor of supporting us, with some indifference," said Siegel, a Maui resident.

The marchers were to end a 110-mile, eight-day, civil rights march today in front of the state attorney general's office on Queen Street.

There, eight gay and lesbian couples will take vows in a commitment ceremony to call attention to their plea that gay couples enjoy the same legal rights as married couples.

The diverse group, the Civil Unions-Civil Rights, will then present a petition to Attorney General Earl Anzai in support of a civil unions bill.

Yesterday, about 30 marchers continued the march from Keeau Beach Park in Makaha to Waipahu High School, carrying signs and rainbow-colored flags. The march highlighted the group's message that Hawaii's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens will fight for equality and justice and against discrimination.

Many joined the group for different segments of the route, including a man with a prosthetic leg and a 79-year-old woman wearing slippers, said Nancy Roberts.

Roberts and four others were marching the entire 110 miles. They carried a coffin containing 68 names of people killed nationwide for their sexual orientation, including a few Hawaii residents. One, a heterosexual man, was killed in Pearl City by a group of youths who thought him to be gay.

A Maui physician was prompted to march because she is concerned with the health of her clients at the Maui AIDS Foundation, who suffer from discrimination.

"Not having equal rights does affect the status of their health," Valerie Simonsen said.

Keeping their lifestyle secret to get jobs or rent homes affects their health because "holding things in -- that causes disease," she said.

Aubri Bush, a University of Hawaii at Hilo student, who marched the entire distance, is a heterosexual who supports the group's civil rights stance.

"I think civil rights is not just a gay and lesbian issue," Bush said. "It has to do with women, blacks, whites, anyone with a civil rights issue. If we don't stand up when we have the chance, they'll just keep taking our rights."

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