Republican Honolulu city council member Charles Djou, who won Saturday’s special congressional election in Hawaii, has mixed positions on gay rights issues — opposing civil unions and marriage equality but supporting repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Djou will fill the seat vacated by Democrat Neil Abercrombie, who is leaving Congress to run for governor.
Djou was the only candidate to come out against the state’s civil unions bill, which is currently awaiting a decision from Gov. Linda Lingle. He issued a statement saying that one of his Democratic rivals, state senate president Colleen Hanabusa, had “blatantly ignored the will” of Hawaii residents by supporting civil unions. “Hawaii voters have spoken very clearly in support of traditional marriage,” he added, referring to a 1998 constitutional amendment that allowed legislators to ban marriage equality, which they did. He also supports the antigay Defense of Marriage Act, the Associated Press reports.
The congressman-elect says his opposition to "don't ask, don't tell" is rooted in his experience as an Army Reserve captain, which led him to believe that the military's antigay policy is ineffective and, considering antifraternization rules, unnecessary. That opposition helped Djou win the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans in April. At the time, the group's chairman, Terry W. Hamilton said, "We are confident that [Djou] will be a consistent champion of liberty equality and freedom for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation."
The gay political group GOProud also endorsed Djou, with executive director Jimmy LaSalvia saying "Djou is a limited-government, free-market conservative who support policies that will improve the lives of all the people of Hawaii, including gays and lesbians."
Djou is the first Republican to represent Hawaii in Congress in two decades. But if Democrats have their way, his time there will be short-lived. He is up for reelection in November, and his two Democratic rivals in Saturday’s race, Hanabusa and Ed Chase, say they’re already turning their attention to the September primary.
See a video of Djou denouncing marriage equality and civil unions below.