The Maui News - Hundreds of Maui residents attended a prayer gathering Sunday afternoon, Oct. 27, in Kahului that included calls against same-sex marriages and the special legislative session that is expected to make gay nuptials legal in Hawai'i.
"As many of you know, we need a miracle, so let us all pray," said Pastor James Marocco of King's Cathedral to a crowded lot across Maui Beach Hotel, referencing news reports that indicate there are enough votes for passage of a same-sex marriage bill.
The gathering of members from at least 15 churches was prompted by the special session that opened on Monday, Oct. 28, on O'ahu. Protesters held signs along Ka'ahumanu Avenue opposing gay marriages and asking for the decision to be put to the voters as a constitutional amendment, rather than through legislative action.
Hundreds of Maui residents attended a prayer gathering Sunday afternoon, Oct. 27, in Kahului that included calls against same-sex marriages and the special legislative session that is expected to make gay nuptials legal in Hawai‘i.
Photo: Debra Lordan
"I think we should let the people decide and vote on this and not let the politicians make the decisions," said Ku'ulei Cagasan of Christ the King Church.
Men and women of the clergy singled out state senators and representatives of Maui County, asking the crowd to pray and to encourage the lawmakers to vote against the bill.
Not all religious faiths in Maui County hold the same view. Members of the Episcopal, Jewish and Buddhist faiths are among those who support the gay marriage legislation and would willingly hold same-sex marriages in their churches and temples if the law were approved.
The Rev. Kerith Harding of St. John's Episcopal Church in Keokea, who is gay, likened the opposition to same-sex marriages to those against interracial marriages a generation ago.
"This is an issue of peace and justice, and we believe that people can live even deeper in their faith by having two committed individuals of God within their Christian community," she said.
While some church leaders on Maui have taken a stance in support of same-sex marriages, Marocco has remained steadfastly opposed, calling it a "sexual behavior glorified as a civil rights issue."
"The Bible makes very clear that sexual behavior should be regulated, and we believe that as well, and so does the state," he said. "You can't marry or have sex with somebody under a certain age, because it's statutory rape We're not against people, but we are for keeping our society in such a way that family union and marriage will be strong for generations to come."
Standing next to Marocco, the Rev. Robb Finberg of Grace Church agreed. "Everything in a civilized environment is regulated. We don't allow prostitution [or] incest; we don't condone adultery [or] open marriages. Polygamy was voted on in America and voted down. We have a standard and this standard is being upheld."
"Now, there's some people who don't like the standard of the Bible and my question to them is, 'If you don't want the biblical morality, what standard do you want?'" Finberg asked. "Outside religious faith, there is no basis of morality. No society ever exists on an arbitrary system of morality, and societies have risen and fallen based on morality."
The special session is expected to last about a week. Gov. Neil Abercrombie called the session after two U.S. Supreme Court rulings gave gay marriage proponents momentum to push for the laws to be changed in the state.
Hawai'i currently recognizes same-sex civil unions that grant many rights similar to marriage but does not label the unions as marriage.