Jeff Hornbaker/Water Rights Images/Newscom

Jeff Hornbaker/Water Rights Images/Newscom

Over the past five days, thousands of Hawaiians poured into the state capitol to stand for marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Prompted by an upcoming vote in the state House of Representatives on SB 1, nearly 5,000 people signed up for two-minute slots to testify before the House that they did not want the Hawaii legislature to redefine marriage. The proposed legislation would redefine marriage for Hawaii and pose potential religious liberty threats.

Citizens from different political, ethnic, and faith backgrounds have been speaking out in support of marriage since Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) called for a special session to address the issue. In early October, over a thousand Hawaiians rallied at the capitol demanding that the definition of marriage be decided by voters directly, not by the legislature. Defenders of traditional marriage believe that they hold the majority view among voters.

While the matter will be decided by the legislature, Hawaiian citizens still made their voices heard. The bill pending in the House was passed by the Senate over the objections of three Democrats. The House vote this week is expected to be close.

Those who rallied in Hawaii understand the need to keep the ideal of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. “I’m here for my future children and also for the future of Hawai’i,” Charis Logan testified.

Government policy should respect those who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman. But SB 1 has elicited concerns that the bill does not provide adequate religious liberty protections.

Representative Sharon Har (D) fears that “applying exemptions only to religious organizations prevents businesses, especially our small businesses and individuals, from expressing their religious and conscientious belief.”

The tremendous amount of opposition to the bill has shown strong support among Hawaiians for marriage as the union of one man and one woman and for their hope that the state will continue to spread this ideal for future generations.

Caitlin Burke is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.