Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Monday announced his support for same-sex marriage, part of a national Mayors for the Freedom to Marry campaign.
The campaign is led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Houston Mayor Annise Park and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
A city is a place where talented minds come together to develop ideas, build businesses, and create culture. In Honolulu we welcome all who want to contribute and build a better future for our island. We take pride in our diversity.
Hawai‘i has always been known for its spirit of tolerance and making all people feel welcome. We live in one of the most diverse places in the world, and for the most part, we all get along. LGBT people were a part of traditional Hawaiian culture, and they are a celebrated part of our community today.
Hawai‘i has a long history of leadership in equal rights. Hawai‘i was the first state to ratify the equal rights amendment for gender equality. We are home to the first Asian American Governor and U.S. Senator, the first Native Hawaiian Governor, U.S. Senator, and Member of Congress, and of course the first African American President of the United States of America.
We have been a leader on rights for the LGBT community, enacting domestic partnerships then civil unions. Now it is time for us to cross the finish line and grant true equal rights with marriage equality.
I strongly support the constitutional right of every person to practice their own religious beliefs, and we should never infringe on that. No religious organization will be forced to conduct a ceremony that is against their teachings. However, committed LGBT couples also have a right to be treated equally under the law, to have their marriages recognized by the state and have equal rights to hospital visitation, work benefits, and tax equity that heterosexual couples enjoy.
Equal treatment under the marriage laws of our state is a civil rights issue. Anything less is discrimination. I urge the legislature to take action.