It appears that it did not take long for US District Court Judge Michael Seabright to deny a request by two churches to block the beginning of the civil unions law in Hawaii. The law was signed by Governor Neil Abercrombie last February. The two plaintiffs- Emmanuel Temple and Lighthouse Outreach Center Assembly of God as well as its pastors asked for the law to be blocked because they claimed that it does not exempt them from hosting such ceremonies.
The law exempts clergy from having to solemnize civil unions. The legislation reads “Nothing in this section shall be construed to require any person authorized to perform solemnizations pursuant to chapter 572 or civil unions pursuant to this chapter to perform a solemnization of a civil union, and no such authorized person who fails or refuses for any reason to join persons in a civil union shall be subject to any fine or other penalty for the failure or refusal,”
In the complaint, the lawyer representing the two churches stated that they thought that Act 1 did not include the exemption and Shawn Luiz wrote “Neither Act 1 not it’s [sic] implementing regulations exempts religious institutions, churches and houses of worship, clergy, officers and members from being subject to the injunctive relief and fine provisions of H. R. S. 489. Within the last 12 months, private individuals have already initiated complaints with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission against churches and houses of worship for refusing to rent their facilities for same-sex unions and/or marriage ceremonies.”