Lawsuit in Honolulu parade case nears settlement

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com July 10 2003 12:00 AM ET

A lawsuit accusing the City and County of Honolulu of excluding gay and lesbian groups from a parade last weekend could result in new guidelines on city event sponsorships. Attorneys for the city and the American Civil Liberties Union met with U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor behind closed doors Tuesday regarding the Family Day Parade last Saturday. The ACLU filed the lawsuit on the behalf of three gay groups after their applications to march in the parade were refused. Organizers said the parade was independently organized by the Hawaii Christian Coalition, and therefore was a private event. The plaintiffs claimed that because the city provided extraordinary support to the coalition, the parade should have been open to all. Gillmor ruled Thursday in favor of the city, denying the ACLU's request for
an order to allow members of The Center, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Family Network, and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays to march. On Tuesday, both sides indicated some type of city guidelines for future parades could result from the lawsuit.

"We'll come up with a set of rules so the city knows what they can and can't do in the future," said Brent White, the legal director for the ACLU of Hawaii. The city agreed Tuesday with the ACLU's request to preserve evidence related to the case as litigation continues, despite the parade's passing. White said the ACLU intends to amend its complaint to argue not only against the exclusion of gays from the parade, but also that Family Day in general was a city-sponsored event with primarily religious themes. The revised suit claims a musical segment of Family Day included nine separate performances by Christian groups, while children's entertainment at the Keiki Stage in Kapiolani Park had a stated purpose to "save souls." Both sides are scheduled to meet behind closed doors again on Aug. 6 in hopes of moving closer to settlement.