Bishop's call to block civil unions offends bill advocates


POSTED: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Catholic Bishop Larry Silva indicates that it is justified to discriminate against gays by forbidding civil unions.

He sent a letter yesterday urging the “;faithful”; to write their legislators to defeat the civil unions bill.

In the letter, Silva said allowing opposite-sex couples to marry but disallowing it for same-sex couples “;is discriminatory. But not all discrimination is unjust. Some is quite justified because it is based on reality and truth.”;

Advocates for House Bill 444 (the civil unions bill) found Silva's words offensive.

“;Of course we are offended because he's trying to impose his version of the truth,”; said Alan Spector, board member of Equality Hawaii and legislative affairs committee co-chairman. “;How would anyone not be offended when people are working to prevent you from obtaining your equal rights?”;

Silva wrote, “;While every person, no matter his or her sexual orientation, is worthy of dignity and respect and has certain inalienable rights given by the Creator, there is no right for people of the same sex to call their unions marriage. (Civil unions is simply a euphemism for same-sex marriage.)”;


Spector countered that Silva advocates a position that takes away dignity.

“;How is living as a second-class citizen, facing daily discrimination and having one's equal rights denied, living a dignified life?”;

Spector said HB 444 is about civil rights, not about forcing any religious denomination to accept same-sex relationships, nor does it force religious clergy to officiate civil unions.

“;So why is Bishop Silva trying to impose his Catholic faith, which I very much respect, upon all of Hawaii's residents? We are a diverse state of many different faith traditions that have differing opinions on this issue.”;

The bill passed the House last year but is still pending in the Senate. The Senate intends to pass the bill early this session, which begins next Wednesday, Senate sources said. The bill would then move back to the House.

The governor said last week that the Legislature should focus on jobs, not on such a controversial issue.