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Hawaii lawmakers, church leaders meet on exemptions in gay marriage bill

Friday, October 11, 2013

HONOLULU — Religious leaders in Hawaii have been meeting with state lawmakers about a religious exemption in pending gay marriage legislation, balancing their opposition to the bill with trying to protect their interests as much as possible should it pass.

Leaders trying to strengthen the exemptions still mainly want to persuade the Legislature to vote down the measure, reported the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

gay-hawaiiLawmakers will consider a marriage equality bill in a special session starting Oct. 28. The session was called by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The current draft exempts religious organizations and related facilities from hosting gay marriages if the facilities aren’t used primarily as for-profit businesses.

Gary Secor, vicar general of the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, said the diocese doesn’t want to make it easier on legislators who are undecided.

“Our position is that we want the bill voted down,” Secor said. “We’re not supporting this language modification, especially if it would give any legislator an excuse to vote for the bill.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and other supporters of the gay marriage bill believe it can include strong religious protections.

Sen. Clayton Hee, a Democrat and chairman of the judiciary committee, said lawmakers are trying to balance several constitutional protections. He said any religious exemption would have to align with the state’s Constitution.

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“We’ll listen to the ideas that people put forward with respect to religious exemptions,” Hee said. “However, our purpose is to put forth a proposal that meets the Constitution.”

Rep. Bob McDermott, a Republican who opposes the bill, said he thinks a stronger exemption is only a fallback plan.

McDermott is a leader in a coalition called Let the People Decide, which is seeking to have lawmakers reject the bill and instead put the issue to vote in an election.

“I certainly believe, in all my heart, that if it was put to a vote of the people, they would not vote for it. But that’s not where we’re at,” McDermott said. “So we need to create the environment where that will happen.”

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23 more reader comments:

  1. Time for the fed to just pass a country-wide law

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 11:53pm
  2. WHen will those churches be paying taxes then?

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 11:57pm
  3. only fake christians need exemptions to allow bigotry.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 12:01am
  4. whatever happened to separation of church and state?

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 12:08am
  5. It isn’t that difficult to include religious protection for churches, Canada was able to do it.,

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 12:09am
  6. You know guys, there’s ALREADY an exemption for you. It’s called the First Amendment, and in addition to telling you to stay out of the government, it tells the government to stay out of your areas!

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 12:19am
  7. I have no problem with a church refusing to participate as long as they are denied tax exempt status. Can’t have it both ways church.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 12:25am
  8. I’m Jewish and my God loves everyone including gay people.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 12:39am
  9. church leaders have do damn say the churches do not marry people the government does when the hell will we push back against religion and tell the people running it “STUF and go back in to your hole of a church leave us alone”

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 12:41am
  10. Jeffrey Thomas only fake christians need exemptions to allow bigotry.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 1:09am
  11. My Gods I hate Catholics and bigots.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 1:25am
  12. When will the church leaders realize they are following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Who loved all, did not say anything against gays….and stated that the most important thing is to love your neighbour…. May god love all people, may all people be allowed equal rights.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 1:26am
  13. I want to go to hawaii…

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 1:30am
  14. What do churches know about love?

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 1:56am
  15. You can not find love in churches of stone, or written in books, its all in the heart…god is ALL in the heart, and when u love, you open the kingdome of god for the world.evil people will deny it, because there souls arent capable of it, of love and acceptance.sounds simple…IT IS.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 2:08am
  16. This is about civil rights for LBGT people. We’re all religions and none. We’re atheists and believers. The issue is about equal rights. Not rights with exceptions – or exemptions. We want the right to be married – churches don’t get to vote on my civil rights.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 2:20am
  17. Mormons already have the right to decide who they will perform wedding rites for.
    Catholics already have the right to decide who they will perform wedding rites for.
    Protestants already have the right to decide who they will perform wedding rites for
    Jews already have the right to decide who they will perform wedding rites for
    This is just another gay bashing blood money begging scam by these tyrannical theocRAT gay bashing terrorists

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 3:07am
  18. Exemptions?? Like what?? Are they legalizing marriage equality or not?

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 4:37am
  19. Exemptions?? Like what?? Are they legalizing marriage equality or not?

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 4:37am
  20. No exemptions for christian filth.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 7:22am
  21. if they get exempt frpm that they should loose their tax exempt status period

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 8:55am
  22. Hello Bekki :-) Hope you are well.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 2:02pm
  23. The church should have NO say!

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 5:05pm