Integrity of SHOPO president called into question after public testimony

By Brenton Awa
Published On: Nov 05 2013 06:31:00 PM HST

The integrity of an HPD officer is being called into question after his testimony at the same sex marriage public hearing.

HONOLULU -

The integrity of an HPD officer is called into question after his testimony on the marriage equality bill. SHOPO president Tenari Ma'afala stands behind what he said at Monday's hearing. Ma'afala said if this bill passed and he was retired, he'd be a lawbreaker.

Click here to watch Brenton Awa's report.

But that doesn't mean Ma'afala would be committing hate crimes. Instead, the 24-year police veteran said the only rule he would break is not allowing his children to go to school on any certain day where they might have to learn sex education.

"You would have to kill me to disrespect my father in heaven, you would have to kill me to impose these types of laws upon my children," Ma'afala said during Monday's hearing.

Ma'afala made it clear where he stands on same-sex marriage, but he also made it clear that he would currently abide by any law whether he's wearing a badge or not.

"The day I retire and bills like this are introduced, I will never honor such law," said Ma'afala during Monday's hearing.

"Everybody has a right to their opinion, if that's how they view me, that's on them," said Ma'afala.

Still, his comment struck a nerve with supporters of this bill, including a gay HPD officer. In a letter obtained by our partners at Civil Beat, officer John Zuezheim writes:

"I am beyond words with how shocked, appalled and horrified I am that any officer, much less the president of SHOPO, would identify himself as such," said Zuezheim.

The letter addressed to Chief Kealoha and Ma'afala goes on to say;

"Ma'afala has single-handedly destroyed any trust not only from this community directly, but also the friends and family members of this community," said Zuezheim.

"John, just as well as anyone else has a right to their opinions and I hope one day he and I can sit face to face and speak," said Ma'afala.

Meanwhile, some supporters of this bill are proud that the SHOPO president stood up for his beliefs.

"He testified exactly what he needed to say to the public. We don't want our children to be confused in this matter," said Eric Paulo, an opponent to SB1.

Others say they won't let these remarks reflect their opinions of all HPD officers.

"It just tells me that there's a lot of education that I expect Chief Kealoha to do with him as well as hopefully the mayor will step in to make sure this gentleman gets the diversity training he so desperately needs," said Michael Golojuch, chair of Honolulu Pride.

"If this law were to pass today, I would still work to enforce the law as it's stated. I would enforce every and all laws and again, discriminate against no one," said Ma'afala.

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