House lawmakers propose broader exemption in same-sex bill - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

House lawmakers propose broader exemption in same-sex bill

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Derrek Miyahara has been a professional wedding photographer for more than ten years. He captures moments missed by the naked eye.

"So there's a collaborative effort. There's a part of me and a part of them in every image that we make," he said.

Miyahara is a born again Christian. He is concerned legalized gay marriage would put him in legal limbo.

"I may be asked to photograph a gay wedding. If I decline to do so based on my religious affiliation as a Christian I may be sued," he said.

Some House lawmakers want an exemption in the same-sex marriage bill that gives small businesses, especially those in the wedding industry, an "opt out" option.

"The purpose is to avoid the type of litigation you're seeing on the mainland where you have same-sex marriage and you have small businesses who feel that they're being imposed upon and being challenged to sacrifice their religious freedoms, their beliefs," Rep. Marcus Oshiro said.

But House minority leader Aaron Johanson believes there isn't enough time in the special session to properly cover the same-sex debate, let alone a broader exemption.

"For democracy to be at its best, at its fullest, there must be that kind of time to be able to not just consider it but also factor that into the final outcome and the product, and whether we even proceed with it or not," he said.

The exemption would cover small businesses with up to five employees. Lawmakers will review it after three years, and it includes a hardship clause.

"If you're the only bakery or photographer or wedding planner let's say in Paauilo or in Honokaa or someplace in the rural areas, then you must provide those services," Oshiro said.

Wedding shoots make up 40 percent of Miyahara's work. He's seeking legal advice and may put a disclaimer on his web site that tells gays he does traditional weddings.

"And then if they still choose to pursue me legally if I turn them down, then to me it's way more than they're wedding images. There's another agenda behind their request," he said.

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