Faith leaders speak out for the freedom to marry in Hawaii

August 19, 2013

HIFaithCoalitionMore than 30 representatives of faith-based groups today signed a resolution in support of marriage equality.

The signing followed a brunch service at the Nuuanu church where President Obama went to Sunday school in his years growing up in Hawaii.

The signers at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu included two Methodist ministers, Barbara “Babs” Grace Ripple, 71, and Samuel Cox, 80, who are engaged to be married.  They back marriage equality and plan to perform same gender marriages when they become legal in Hawaii.  Rev. Cox was among the first to perform civil unions in Hawaii.

The two ministers, whose previous spouses are deceased, will be married at the Kailua United  Methodist Church next weekend.

Today, they joined other ministers in urging lawmakers and the governor to approve marriage for same sex couples.

“They did not choose to be gay.  This is how God made them.  And who am I to say that they should not have the same benefits in life that I have,” Rev. Ripple said.

Her fiancé was the director of Hale Kipa for two decades and witnessed many tragic struggles involving gay youths.

“Many of these youth were actually throwaways,” Rev. Cox said.  “They were disowned by their families, teased and bullied at school.  Most heart-breaking, they were condemned by their own churches and pastors.  One of those Hale Kipa youth in the early days killed himself.  He felt he had nothing to live for or any future to look forward to.  This was a life changing experience for me and ever since I have been a strong advocate for civil rights and marriage equality for our LGBT friends.”

Hawaii’s marriage equality advocates welcomed the support by the faith-based groups.

“Everyone agrees that discrimination is something we cannot tolerate in Hawaii.  Its why we are seeing our leaders of faith call to resolve this now, and why we are seeing a tide of courage and compassion rise up throughout the islands,” said Rep. Chris Lee (D-51st District)

The move by faith-based groups comes just days after Hawaii’s Congressional delegation urged Governor Neil Abercrombie and the State legislature to pass the freedom to marry in Hawaii without delay.  The call from the federal delegation comes in the wake of a new poll showing majority support in Hawaii for marriage equality.  The poll shows those opposed to gay marriage are diminishing quickly.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriages.  Hawaii has a civil unions law, but does not allow gay couples to marry.