Judge defers ruling on Honolulu parade

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com July 02 2003 11:00 PM ET

A federal judge on Tuesday deferred ruling on an order to allow Hawaiian gay groups to march in a Honolulu parade. U.S. district judge Helen Gillmor requested additional evidence to dispute or support the American Civil Liberties Union's claim that the city of Honolulu is cosponsoring the Family Day Parade, scheduled for Saturday, with the Hawaii Christian Coalition and turned away participants based on their sexual orientation. The ACLU is backing the three gay groups that have requested the right to march.

"It is up to you to explain through evidence why this isn't a joint venture," Gillmor said, promising a ruling Thursday. Defense attorneys argued that the parade is separate from the Family Day celebration as a whole--a daylong series of events including fireworks and an outdoor movie--and is independently organized by the Christian Coalition. The plaintiffs claimed the city provided extraordinary support to the coalition and the parade is therefore a public event open to all.

Brent White, legal director for the ACLU of Hawaii, said 12 of the 20 members of the parade committee are city employees. He said the city Parks Department would provide clean-up, not typically offered to private parades. And he said city vehicles would be used in the event. "The city is intimately involved, inexplicably involved," White said.

Greg Swartz, deputy corporate counsel for the city, said, "The city and county of Honolulu was not a sponsor of the parade. It was never a sponsor of the parade."

But Gillmor said Swartz and Robert Matsumoto, representing the Christian Coalition, offered little evidence supporting their claim. "It's all lumped together," she said. "There isn't any distinction between what the city's doing and what the Hawaii Christian Coalition is doing."

Garret Hashimoto, state chairman of the Hawaii Christian Coalition, said he planned to call the parade off if Gillmor rules in favor of allowing gays to participate.