HONOLULU (BP)--One month after its passage appeared all but certain, a bill to legalize civil unions in Hawaii was rejected Wednesday in the state Senate, and observers on both sides are pointing to an outpouring of opposition from Christians as a main reason.
The bill would have made Hawaii the sixth state to grant homosexual couples all the legal benefit of marriage minus the name. The bill deadlocked at 3-3 in a Senate committee Feb. 25 but nevertheless appeared headed for passage when Democratic leaders claimed they had majority support for it in the full body. But support plummeted in the following days, and on Wednesday an attempt to pull it from committee failed, with only six of 24 senators supporting the action. It needed nine votes -- one third of the body -- to be considered on the floor.
The turning point turned out to be a rally at the state capitol Feb. 22 in which 8,000 to 12,000 opponents -- most dressed in red -- urged senators to defeat the bill, which had passed the House, 33-17.
"That's when minds changed," Rick Lazor, pastor of OlaNui Church, a Southern Baptist congregation, told Baptist Press.
At the committee meeting two days after the rally, about 1,400 people -- the large majority of them opponents -- showed up to testify. The hearing lasted more than 15 hours and didn't end until after 3 a.m. In the following days opponents continued calling, writing and e-mailing their senators, Lazor said.
Wednesday's vote in Hawaii stood in stark contrast to what is taking place in the New England states, where "gay marriage" bills are advancing at what conservatives consider an alarming rate. Read More