by Andrew Walden
Will churches, individuals or clergy be “forced” to participate in same-sex marriages if Governor Neil Abercrombie’s proposed gay marriage bill becomes law un-amended?
The Attorney General, Rep John Mizuno, Rep Linda Ichiyama, Common Cause, and the Hawaii ACLU all emphatically say “No” in an October 10 feature on Hawaii News Now after anonymous flyers printed from a First Assembly of God Church website were distributed to constituents in Mizuno and Ichiyama’s districts.
The truth is that the First AOG flyer understates—not overstates--its case. Abercrombie’s proposed gay marriage bill employs means much more insidious than mere ‘force’ to achieve transformation of the family structure.
The religious exemptions in Abercrombie’s gay marriage bill are designed to allow churches the ‘choice’ to continue upholding the nuclear family—but that ‘choice’ is allowed only to churches which close their doors to the community and strangle their own financial underpinnings. The result is an atheist’s wet dream—with religion separated from not only the state, but the whole of society—except for churches which agree to abandon their commitment to the family structure which underlies all church teaching and serves as the foundation without which popular democracy cannot be stabilized.
Thirteen states and the District of Colombia have had gay marriage imposed upon them. In sharp contrast to other states’ strong legislative language protecting religious freedom, Abercrombie’s bill is riddled with ‘exemptions,’ to wit:
§572-G Religious organizations and facilities; liability exemption under certain circumstances.
(a) A religious organization shall not be required to make a religious facility owned or leased by the religious organization available for solemnization of a particular marriage; provided that:
- The religious facility is regularly used by the religious organization for its religious purposes;
- For solemnization of marriages pursuant to this chapter, the religious organization restricts use of the religious facility to its members; and
- The religious organization does not operate the religious facility as a for-profit business.
Almost all churches are organized as 501c-3 non-profits, so why even contemplate the possibility of a “for-profit business?” The purpose is to create a pretext for use by Hawaii’s atheist activists and their elite enablers who have already stacked the mis-named Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) and the Hawaii Judiciary. They plan to label any activity which generates revenues in excess of expenses as “for-profit.” This intent—clearly stated by HCRC Chair Bill Hoshijo during legislative testimony--should concern the entire non-profit sector in Hawaii.
If that is not enough, the bill reads:
(c) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to exempt the owner or operator of any religious facility from the requirements of chapter 489 if the religious facility is a place of public accommodation as defined in section 489-2."
Here’s how HRS 489-2 defines “place of public accommodation”
"Place of public accommodation" means a business, accommodation, refreshment, entertainment, recreation, or transportation facility of any kind whose goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations are extended, offered, sold, or otherwise made available to the general public as customers, clients, or visitors. …place of public accommodation includes … an establishment that is physically located within the premises of an establishment otherwise covered by this definition, or within the premises of which is physically located a covered establishment, and which holds itself out as serving patrons of the covered establishment.
And what is the legal obligation of any facility deemed to be a “public accommodation”?
Chapter 489 Hawaii Public Accommodations Law requires prohibition against refusal of services based on: "’Gender identity or expression’ include(ing) a person's actual or perceived gender, as well as a person's gender identity, gender-related self-image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression, regardless of whether that gender identity, gender-related self-image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression is different from that traditionally associated with the person's sex at birth.”
If there is any doubt about who will be enforcing this on churches, the State Attorney General’s Office tells HNN:
People who are interested in the public accommodations code and the marriage equity bill can visit the Hawai'i Civil Rights Commission website….
Front-and-center on the HCRC website is a joint HCRC-Lambda Legal news release celebrating the ‘Aloha Bed and Breakfast’ decision in which two lesbians won the right to force their way into a private home because their lawyers convinced a Hawaii judge to accept a new and elastic interpretation of the very same public accommodations code which the Attorney General’s office cites the HCRC as an authority on.
HRCR’s five board members include lesbian UH law prof Linda Hamilton Krieger, a plaintiff in Lambda Legal's Young vs Lingle Hawaii Civil Unions suit who is “pained that the state favors religious views that discriminate against same-sex couples," and transsexual activist Mr Kim Coco Iwamoto, a lawyer and former School Board member who campaigned successfully in 2006 to add “gender identity or expression” to the public accommodations law.
In debate over HB2569 of 2012 the Civil Unions ‘fix-it bill’, HCRC Chair Bill Hoshijo made clear that he intends to use the thinnest pretext to characterize most churches as public accommodations. Civil Beat March 20, 2012 describes Hosijo’s testimony:
Senators wanted to know what defined "public accommodation."
Hoshijo, paraphrasing statute, said it was any entity that offers goods, services, accommodates, advantages and benefits to public. The list would include hotels but also churches that charge commercially for, say, a community group's use of its facility.
How did that apply to Japanese weddings held in local churches like Kawaiahao? Or the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is run by the Mormon church?
Hoshijo and the Deputy Attorney General Deirdre Marie-Iha office said that discrimination complaints would have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Two churches sued December 28, 2011 over the lack of protection under Hawaii’s Civil Unions law but their case was thrown out due to its hypothetical nature. In spite of Chairman Hoshijo’s clear intent, gay-atheist activists have been biding their time so the Attorney General can now tell HNN:
…the religious facilities exemption contained in the marriage equity bill is already the law in the civil unions statute. As far as we are aware, to date there have been no lawsuits filed against any religious organization for refusing to perform a civil union.
Churches will be obligated to gut their own finances and close their facilities to the community in order to uphold the nuclear family. This is the “choice” which will constantly be “forced” upon churches if Abercrombie’s gay marriage law passes un-amended.
Only 186 Civil Unions were licensed in the first five months of 2013—a number which is in line with national and international statistics showing very low interest in gay ‘marriage.’ Under Abercrombie’s bill, more churches will be gutted than gays will be married.