The Democratic primary race for Aiea's state House seat pits two incumbent Rep. Blake Oshiro and outgoing Honolulu city councilman Gary Okino, who are on opposite sides of the civil unions issue.
Okino is Catholic and opposes civil unions. Oshiro is the author of the recently passed civil unions bill and gay.
The two faced off Tuesday night in a radio debate.
It was a chance for voters to listen to the two Democratic candidates running for State House District 33.
The two voiced similar stances of support for a constitutional amendment for an appointed school board, rail transit and sending Hawaii inmates to mainland prisons.
Where the two departed was on civil unions.
"I don't believe there needs to be equal rights of marriage for same-sex couples. Traditionally it's been a way of protecting families. Families are the core of our nation," Okino said.
"What civil unions tries to do is level the playing field when it comes to discrimination that goes on. It's about the rights and responsibilities afforded to certain couples but denied to others," Oshiro said.
The two disagreed not only on civil unions, but also whether homosexuals face discrimination like Asian-Americans did during World War II.
"To say that is equality, that's wrong," Okino said.
"Obviously I am going to disagree," Oshiro said.
Those in the audience admitted that civil unions will be a central issue in this election, but not the only one.
"I think it's one of the key issues in this district, but I think there are many other issues regarding education or economy. But, I think civil unions will be highly looked at," Halawa resident Brandon Elefante said.
At the end, the candidates differed on another point. Oshiro looked back on what he has been able to accomplish during his time as a state representative. While Okino looked to the future, as he talked about the need for new representation.
Both candidates have been in office for the past 10 years, with each being victorious in elections over the last decade.