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November 12, 2013 Print

Hawaii Lawmakers Redefine Marriage; Religious Freedom in Jeopardy

by Bethany Monk

The Hawaii Senate voted to create same-sex marriage today. The state will become the 16th to redefine the institution.

The Senate passed a version as amended by the House. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said he will sign it into law.

Jim Hochberg, president of Hawaii Family Advocates, said the law will do more than create same-sex marriage. It will also infringe on religious freedom.

He said Christian business owners — including wedding photographers, cake makers and florists — will lose the freedom to turn down same-sex ceremonies.

“Also, churches are only protected from being forced to participate in solemnization or celebration of marriages, but not other things related to marriage, like marriage counselling.”

If a church opens its facilities to any outside group, it will be forced to allow its property to be used by anyone, even those do not support what the church believes.

The legislation would also create special divorce rights for same-sex couples.

“They don’t have to reside in Hawaii for the minimum number of months before the court takes jurisdiction over them. In fact, they don’t have to come here at all,” Hochberg said.

Hawaii would join the District of Columbia and 14 states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — that have redefined the institution.

Illinois lawmakers approved a same-sex marriage bill last week. It is now on its way to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he will sign it.

The people of Hawaii have not been silent regarding their support for marriage. On Oct. 28, the first day of the special legislative session, about 10,000 people rallied for marriage at the state capital.

In addition, an unprecedented 5,000 people signed up to testify. Eighty-seven percent were in opposition to redefining the institution, according to the House Minority Office, responsible for registering those who testify.

And yet, most lawmakers ignored them.

Rep. Jo Jordan, an openly gay Democrat, was among those who actually did listen. She voted against the bill because of its lack of protection for religious freedom.

“She actually gets the fact that individuals who are in businesses related to wedding functions should not be forced to participate in same-sex marriages,” Hochberg explained. “She’s a hero to me. She actually voted what she thought was right rather than what her constituency wanted.”

Learn more about the Hawaii Family Advocates.

Learn more about SB 1.

Read “Hawaii Lawmaker: Opposition Strong to Same-Sex Marriage.”