Gays and lesbians protest Honolulu parade

BY Advocate.com Editors

July 07 2003 11:00 PM ET

Gay and lesbian groups may have been excluded from participating in a Christian-backed parade in Honolulu, but many of their members made their presence known from the sidelines as it moved through Waikiki on Saturday. Mayor Jeremy Harris and parade organizers were heckled as they passed by in the Family Day Parade. "Shame on you, Mayor Harris. Shame on you for supporting homophobia and bigotry," gay rights activist Michael Golojuch called through a bullhorn as Harris rode by in the back of a convertible. Many of the protesters held signs. One said, "The Christian Right Is Wrong." Another sign read, "Christian Coalition: America's Taliban."

"We hope to send a message to Mayor Harris and Garret Hashimoto (state chairman of the Hawaii Christian Coalition) that city-sponsored discrimination will not be accepted, we are going to hold them accountable, that this is a city-sponsored and city-endorsed parade," Golojuch said. Golojuch, project coordinator for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, was a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to fight the exclusion of three gay groups that wanted to march in the
parade. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, claimed the city and the Hawaii Christian Coalition were cosponsors of the parade. U.S. district judge Helen Gillmor rejected the argument Thursday, saying the
parade was independently organized by the coalition. Since the parade was privately funded, "they may exclude a voice that they find objectionable to their message," Gillmor said. If the parade had been
cosponsored by the city, gays and lesbians could not have been excluded, she said.

But Brent White, the legal director for the ACLU of Hawaii, said the city's involvement with the parade was evident by number of official city vehicles that participated. "They still have more city vehicles in this parade today than they have in any parade, aside from Honolulu City Lights, which is the biggest city event. They don't do this for other parades," White said. When asked what he thought about the protest on the other side of Kalakaua Avenue, parade watcher Layton Chee said, "Pretty disturbing, actually. I don't really know anything about it, but it's kind of disturbing to us over here." The protest didn't bother another spectator, 11-year-old Chezlani Lee. "I think they're just protesting about their rights and stuff, and how they feel free," she said. "Like this is a free country, and they should be able to do it."

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