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Rallies take place during same-sex marriage testimony

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Oct 29 2013 07:25:10 AM HST
Updated On: Oct 29 2013 07:32:32 AM HST

Thousands came out to make their voices heard over the equality bill in Hawaii.

HONOLULU -

Testimony over same-sex marriage was heard inside Hawaii's State Capitol while outside thousands gathered to rally in support or against a bill that would legalize gay marriage.

After a full day of testimony, some residents also ended up protesting the actions of lawmakers.

Click here to watch Paul Drewes' live report from the State Capitol.

Early Monday, supporters of the same-sex bill took their message to the State Capitol grounds.

"Everyone deserves to be loved, to love each other and not have anyone tell them they can't get married," said Aiea resident Kristina Switzer.

That small gathering of dozens of supporters was followed by a huge rally against same-sex marriage.

Thousands voiced their opposition and pushed for lawmakers to let people vote over this hotly-contested issue.

"Let the people decide. We don't want it to be decided by 77 people in the legislature. We want it to go to vote," said Mililani resident Randy Kimura.

Not only were there passionate pleas and calls for action, the afternoon rally also included a drive to reach voters.

"The purpose is to get everyone in the community who cares about families to get involved in the legislature moving forward. This is a spring board for family issues," said Eva Andrade, with Hawaii Family Forum.

Same-sex marriage has been a controversial issue, and mid-day action by Senate Judiciary Chair Clayton Hee added to the controversy.

"Hee says, 'Because of the number of people who wanted to speak, if you're not here in 15 minutes you are not going to be able to testify,'" said Pastor Ron Yoshida, with the Moanalua Gardens Missionary Church.

Residents already had their testimony time cut from two minutes to one. Then the sudden deadline left many who had submitted statements on-line unable to speak their mind over same-sex marriage.

"I drove a half an hour to get here. I parked two miles away. It took me half an hour to walk to the building, and when I got down here to testify, I was turned away," said Hawaii Kai resident Colette Hinchcliff.

"It is not democratic and it is basically saying my voice doesn't count. If you weren't here in 15 minutes you were not important," said Ewa Beach resident Wailana Kamauu.

Residents weren't the only ones frustrated over the speed same-sex marriage is moving through the legislature.

"It underscores the problem of rushing this issue into a special session. It does not afford a full vetting, community participation and dialogue you should have on something this emotional," said House Representative Marcus Oshiro.

Click here to watch Paul Drewes' recap of the State Capitol rallies.

Because of the huge numbers of residents who testified Monday, the House committees who will hear the bill Thursday will assign registration numbers to those who submit their testimony and wish to speak at the hearing.

On Wednesday, the Senate will vote on the bill that passed through a committee Monday night.

Click here to see more photos from the special session.

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