HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Holding his bible, SHOPO President Tenari Ma'afala testifies against SB1, the same-sex marriage bill. He told lawmakers this bill will turn him, a law abiding citizen, into a law breaker.
While many in the crowd threw up shakas in support, members of the gay community listened in shock. Including another Honolulu Police Officer, Corporal John Zeuzheim.
Cpl. Zeuzheim, admits that Ma'afala did not make any negative comments about LGBT people but is critical that Ma'afala mentioned his role as SHOPO President.
"He is more well-known than our chief," says Zeuzheim who believes that Ma'afala's testimony sent the wrong message. "This just acknowledges all their fears that the police department does not respect them."
Zeuzheim -- a 13-year veteran with HPD-- spoke with Hawaii News Now while watching testimony Tuesday. He says he knows he could be fired, or reprimanded for speaking to the media, but says he didn't have a choice.
"I want the gay and lesbian community to know that there's somebody willing to step up," he says. "They need to know there's people equally as passionate to protect them and serve them as there are people who are not."
Ma'afala was number 5038 to testify, but it was one of the most memorable as lawmakers called him back minutes later for a Q & A session.
"The day I retire and bills like this are introduced, I will never, ever, honor such law, you would have to kill me to disrespect my father in Heaven," he said.
Zeuzheim said he would not have had a problem with Ma'afala's testimony if he claimed to be a citizen, father and husband, and left out his position with the union.
"He spoke on behalf of police officers," he says.
The department issued the following statement on the internal strife:
The Honolulu Police Department does not have a position on same sex marriage, nor does the department consider this a law enforcement issue.
Like other citizens, HPD employees are free to express their personal opinions as private individuals.
When it comes to serving the public, officers are sworn to protect and serve every member of the public and to treat everyone with respect and fairness. Officers who do not adhere to this standard are subject to investigation.