Church leaders call for equal rights

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Aug 26 2013 03:09:53 PM HST
Updated On: Aug 26 2013 07:26:34 PM HST

More than a hundred religious leaders, representing tens of thousands of island residents, came together to call for equal protection for churches.

HONOLULU -

On Monday, another rally by church pastors was held over the push for a same-sex marriage bill.

This time though, religious leaders came out against the rush for legislation to protect the rights of all.

Though they came from different churches, more than a hundred leaders on the same page over same-sex marriage.

"It is very important for our church and all of Hawaii. We're here for our church, our families, our children and the next generation," said Ellie Kapihe, the pastor at Windward Missionary Church.

After another group of faith based leaders signed up to support a same-sex marriage bill last week, church leaders felt they also needed to speak up.

"For us it is about protecting the religious rights and freedoms we do have," said Kapihe.

Those gathered signed a declaration in support of religious rights, which they said is not an attempt to keep same-sex members out of their churches.

"We accept anyone, the door is wide open. We used to have eight transvestites that used to come to church for a year," said Dennis Sallas, the pastor at Hope Chapel Waikiki.

What the religious leaders don't accept is being excluded in the formation of a same-sex marriage bill.

"We have to have a voice in this to make sure we are protected like everyone else," said Wayne Cordeiro, the pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship.

There has been talk of lawmakers getting close to a special session to vote on whether same-sex marriage should become law.Some pastors worry their wedding chapels could then be forced to hold same-sex ceremonies.

In the fight for equal rights for everyone, it is now church leaders calling for equal protection under the law.

"We want to make sure the rights of those of faith are protected, just like those who want equal rights as a lesbian couple. You don't want it too inversely proportional where they get more and it destroys the others," said Cordeiro.

In addition to the declaration of religious rights, the church leaders said they will spend a lot of time praying over the next few days, for lawmakers, the governor and also for a compromise in the same-sex marriage debate. Currently lawmakers have not presented a same-sex marriage bill and neither legislators or the governor has formally called for a special session over the issue.

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