HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Same-sex couples can't wed in Hawaii. But President Obama's words supporting gay marriages have become a rallying cry for supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.
Local supporters of same-sex marriage say people should realize that it's simply the right thing to do. "But if it takes the president coming out and actually verbalizing that to the country, saying that 'I am in support' and standing behind a very large community that needs the rights and protections, I think that's a good thing," said Tambry Young, president of Citizens for Equal Rights.
In Hawaii, same-sex marriages are banned by a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998. However, civil unions began legal at the beginning of this year. The state Health Department says so for in 2012, it has issued 316 civil union licenses, compared with 7,049 marriage licenses.
The president made his thoughts known in a nationally-televised interview, saying that civil unions didn't go far enough. "For me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," the president said.
Hawaii Family Forum, which led the charge against civil unions, said no matter what the president says, it still stands behind marriage as being between one man and one woman. "We should protect marriage and not undermine it or redefine it," said Allen Cardines, Jr., the group's executive director and senior pastor at Hope Chapel Nanakuli. "Especially here in the islands because it's all about ohana, it's all about family, and the basic institution of all humanity is marriage between a man and a woman."
Last week, Hawaii Family Forum was allowed to take part in a federal lawsuit brought against the state by Natasha Jackson-Kleid and Janin Kleid, who want the right to marry in Hawaii. In a statement, Jackson-Kleid said, "We are both really happy that our president supports gay marriage. Our president is brave during this, an election year, to change the usual vague political answers of gay marriage to a clear, 'I support!' I commend him!"
"Is it a political move? I don't know, but I'm just saying I know it's the right move," said Young."I think in his heart, you know, he wants to support all people, and he sees us as just as important as everyone else."
"I think it will be interesting to see what happens," said Cardines. "Of course elections is coming up soon. It'll be very interesting to see what happens at the polls in the election."