Senate due to vote Tuesday
HONOLULU — Several thousand civil union opponents rallied Sunday, Feb. 22 at the state Capitol ahead of this week’s Senate committee vote on a bill that would legalize the alternative to gay marriage.
Protesters held signs saying "We affirm traditional marriage" and "No to same-sex marriage" while listening to speakers in the Capitol’s open-air rotunda.
The large crowd spilled onto the grass fronting Beretania street. Others stood in the back, signing petitions opposing the bill.
Cars and trucks driving by honked in support.
"We’re gathered here because we want our voices heard," Wayne Cordeiro, senior pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, said to loud cheers from the crowd. "This is an important day for the state of Hawaii."
Dennis Arakaki, executive director of the Hawaii Family Forum, which organized the rally, led demonstrators in silent prayer.
"We are here in the spirit of love, compassion, and grace," Arakaki said. "But we are also here armed with the sword of truth."
Rally volunteer Julia Sula said she came to the demonstration with 200 to 300 other members of her Waipahu church — the Lighthouse Outreach Center — on three buses after their Sunday service.
The 65-year-old retired state social worker said the Bible disapproved of same sex marriage.
"We believe in traditional marriage: a woman to a man. Not man to a man and woman to a woman," Sula said.
Melvin Apana, 59, who also came to the rally with fellow members of his church, said lawmakers were ignoring the views of their constituents.
"Our public officials are taking it on their own," Apana said. "They’re not talking to the communities about these things. Go to your communities. See what your community is saying."
Apana, a Republican, lost to Marilyn Lee, a Democrat, in last year’s election to represent Mililani in the state House.
The state House this month passed a bill that would legalize civil unions. A divided Senate committee was due to vote on the bill Tuesday, Feb. 24.