Civil union opponents demonstrate against a bill

Dennis Dutton
Dennis Dutton
Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu
Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu

By Diane Ako - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Equal rights, or moral erosion? A bill that would give same sex couples civil rights is making its way through the legislature, and stirring up major emotions along the way.

The capitol was a sea of red on Sunday- the color of solidarity against allowing civil unions in Hawaii. Only a few supporters of the bill- like Representative Tom Brower (D- Ala Moana, Kakaako)- dared attend a massive demonstration against the bill.

The bill would give all rights of a married couple, to a same-sex partnership. Opponents fear that could lead to same sex marriage. The assistant pastor of Calvary Chapel West Oahu, Dennis Dutton, summed up, "It's absolutely a slippery slope. If you look at the bill in detail to get into civil unions it's the same thing as getting into a marriage."

Supporters of the bill, like Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu (D- Waipahu, Waikele) asserted, this is not true. "There's a lot of distortion in what's being said in the general public. This doesn't change the marriage law at all. This is a separate section of the law we're creating that expands rights which heterosexual couples already have."

Karamatsu chairs the House Judiciary committee which just passed the bill along. Karamatsu voted for the bill. Supporters like him emphasized, it's about civil rights. "All rights available under the law should be available to every citizen in the state of Hawaii. I think the majority of the Legislature feels this way," continued Karamatsu.

Opponents like Dutton insisted it's about the Bible. "God does love everybody, but this is not about individuals. It's about the family. God loves the family."

The bill is now on shaky ground in a Senate Judiciary committee. Representative Karamatsu speculated it could pass if it survives that. "That committee is the real test. But if it should get out of that committee it should get to a vote on the Senate Floor."

Supporters will have their day. On Monday, the Interfaith Alliance, another group of churches, will hold a rally at 10 a.m. to support the civil unions bill.