Cleve Jones, former legislative aide to former California assemblyman Harvey Milk, was in town this past weekend to lead training sessions for activists and to speak at the union rally on the issue of civil unions.
Rep. Blake Oshiro will introduce civil union legislation this year, and Judiciary Chair Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu said he will give it a fair hearing. The story appears in Sunday's Honolulu Star Bulletin here.
Rep. B. Oshiro said:
Oshiro also wants to create a task force or commission to review whether civil unions brought equality to other states and clear up any misunderstandings of the process.
Oshiro thinks the civil-union bill has a chance to become law this year, but admits same-sex marriage faces a "big uphill battle."
"I'm not sure about the viability of it," Oshiro said. "But I understand the need for discussion. ... I think it's symbolic."
Rep. Karamatsu said:
Karamatsu declined to say whether he is for civil unions or same-sex marriages, instead saying he is looking forward to hearing all sides of the issue.
"I think there's going to be some reservations on that issue with certain members, depending where their districts are," Karamatsu said. "Some districts feel a bit more conservative on the issue."
To that, Family Equality Coalition co-chairman Alan Spector said:
Spector said he hopes to allay political fears by providing a list of politicians who support same-sex unions and marriages and were re-elected across the nation. He also has enlisted help from local unions, including the Hawaii Government Employees Association and Local 5.
Spector also stressed that they are not seeking to change any religious definitions of marriage.
"It is a myth," Spector said. "This really isn't about religion. It's about the civil marriage certificate you can get at the Department of Health."