Churches divided over same-sex marriage bill

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State lawmakers will be meeting Friday to discuss the Governor’s draft of the same-sex marriage bill.

In a state House caucus meeting, they will be sitting down with the Governor and Attorney General to ask questions and discuss any concerns with the current draft.

The Senate has enough votes to pass the bill, but the state House remains in question.

In the meantime, religious groups have been taking a strong stand on the issue – holding rallies, contacting lawmakers, and addressing their congregations.

Churches are taking a very public stand for and against same-sex marriage.

Church leaders are using the same foundation for their positions, the bible, but interpreting it differently.

They’re singing in unison but each have a different tune.

It’s becoming a war of words, as church leaders of various faiths speak out on same-sex marriage.

“The Catholic Church has always been opposed to gay marriage. We believe that marriage is only between one man and one woman and that really is a revelation that’s given to us by the Lord,” said Bishop Larry Silva, Catholic Diocese of Honolulu in an interview earlier this month.

He also recently posted a letter, calling fellow Catholics and lawmakers to reject same-sex marriage.

The bishop’s remarks and recent letters to lawmakers have struck a chord with this reverend, who decided to address the hot topic from the pulpit today.

“Let me remind the bishop and other conservative leaders that they do not represent all Christians. They do not. They are not better Christians than those of us who hold different beliefs,” said Rev. Elizabeth Zivanov, of St. Clements Church.

She went on to say,

“I respect, appreciate Bishop Silva’s articulation of his faith, both personally and one of the institutional leaders of the Catholic Church. But I also remind him that he also does not possess the whole truth of God, that he has no right to force civil law to reflect his particular brand of Christianity, and that he has nothing to fear as far as his civil rights to his own religious freedom are concerned. But I call on him to respect the rights and faith (or non-faith) of those who believe differently, to not escalate fear in the community by his unfounded accusations about gay people and their families, and to allow us the same civil rights that he insists on for himself.”

Right or wrong, some believe churches should stay out of this legal battle all together.

“What about separation of church and state, should the church be trying to enter the state legislature in such a way? It really disgusts me, it really does,” says Scott Flaherty.

Representative Della Au Belatti says the current draft of the bill has a religious exemption clause that does help address one of the biggest concerns.

“It would not require people of faith who do not support same-sex marriage, would not have to marry same-sex couples in their churches,” explains Belatti, (D) state representative of the Makiki-McCully district.

Legislators have been flooded with calls and emails from both sides of the pew, but say they welcome the dialogue.

“There is religious diversity in this community lets respect our religious diversity and lets move forward on marriage equality,” says Belatti.

The governor says this week he plans to discuss with lawmakers the possibility of scheduling a special session and bringing this bill to a vote.

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