Supporters remain hopeful civil unions bill will pass


POSTED: Sunday, March 08, 2009
This story has been corrected. See below.

Supporters of civil unions in Hawaii vow to return to the Capitol every year until the state legalizes same-sex partnerships.

;[Preview]    Supporters Rally At State Capitol For Civil Union

More than 300 civil union supporters attended a vigil at the state capitol hoping that same sex couples can be treated equally by law. 03/07/2009.




Their promises came yesterday at a candlelight vigil in support of House Bill 444, which would legalize civil unions and give the same legal rights for married couples to couples of the same sex.

The bill stalled in a Senate committee last month.

Senators are considering forcing the bill to the floor for a vote, where there appears to be a majority for passage. But some who are in favor of the bill do not support going around the normal legislative process and yanking a bill out of committee.

“;I still hope at the end of the day, reason, understanding and a commitment to equality will win out,”; said Rep. Blake Oshiro, one of 32 sponsors of the bill in the House.

Oshiro says he remains hopeful the Senate will approve the bill, which was passed by the House.

The state Sheriff Division estimates between 300 to 400 people showed up at the vigil in a drizzle last night, far less than the thousands that showed up wearing red for an anti-civil-unions rally a couple of weeks ago.

If the bill fails or if Gov. Linda Lingle vetoes it, supporters vowed they will be back.

“;We are never going away,”; said Alan Spector, co-chairman of Family Equality Coalition Hawaii, a nonprofit that supports same-sex marriage. “;We will be back year after year and day after day until we get our equal rights. There is a movement being built right now.”;

Spector was married to his partner in Canada in 2005. He said same-sex couples want the same benefits and protections as opposite-sex couples.

“;We're being harmed. We want to be treated the same as anyone else and have our families recognized by the government,”; he said.

James Daly and Morris Skagen of Seattle have been in a relationship for 35 years.

Skagen said Hawaii has been open to racial diversity, and he hopes the state can be a good role model for the rest of the country.

“;There's an emotional aspect,”; Daly said. “;You're not considered less than other people.”;

Members of several unions were also at the event, including some in the 11,000-member hotel and restaurant union Local 5.

Local 5 spokesman Cade Watanabe said civil unions for same-sex partners means economic justice.

“;It's about equality. It's everything that our union stands for. Our union's whole mission is about bringing people from very diverse backgrounds together, fighting for the common good or equality,”; he said. “;It's not a religious union, it's a civil union.”;

Several religious groups also expressed support.

“;I would love to see the religion taken out of the argument for a change,”; said Father Richard Shields of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii.

He added that members of religious groups opposed to same-sex partnerships should not just listen to their leaders, but read the Bible themselves.

“;Go through the Bible, sit down and read what Jesus said,”; he said. “;They preach love and they live out hate. I think they're being very disingenuous.”;





        »  The state Sheriff Division estimates between 300 to 400 people showed up for a pro-civil unions rally at the Capitol on Saturday, said Louise Kim McCoy, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman. A Hawaii Page 15 story yesterday said more than 200 people showed up.