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Emotions run high through crowds

By Dan Nakaso

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:02 a.m. HST, Jul 07, 2010


They broke out in song and cries of "Hallelujah, Jesus" as word spread instantly yesterday that Gov. Linda Lingle had vetoed Hawaii's civil-unions bill.

Some of the dozens of opponents of House Bill 444 who had gathered outside of Lingle's Capitol office dropped to their knees, threw their arms in the air and wept openly, crying, "Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!"

Downstairs, supporters of HB 444 were sequestered to the street-level mauka side entrance to the Capitol rotunda.

The news that Lingle had vetoed HB 444 spread just as quickly through that group, leading dozens of them to sob openly and hug one another, with some cursing Lingle's name.

Vincent Rosa, Benjamin Lebehn and Torie Chinen crumpled into a heap, hugging one another in despair.

"We're crushed," Rosa said. "Three years of hard work shattered."

Lingle's announcement spread over social media websites, cell phones and laptop computers as people watching live-streaming video of her press conference relayed the word back to HB 444 opponents, who were restricted to the makai side of the state Capitol outside the governor's fifth-floor office.

A few supporters from each side had gathered at the Capitol before sunrise. As the morning wore on, the ranks of both groups grew into the dozens.

Supporters of HB 444 listened to blaring dance music on the steps of the Capitol and waved signs and rainbow flags along Beretania Street.

Opponents showed up dressed in white and put on red stickers that proclaimed "iVote." They knelt in prayer on the rotunda's makai entrance and went up to the fifth floor, where clusters of people sang and recited the Lord's Prayer.

"It was the first step toward gay marriage, and it's totally against the Bible," said Ward Kea, of Waipahu.

Oscar Pouoa, a father of four, brought his wife and their two youngest children to the Capitol because "I'm a family man," he said. "It wasn't about equality or equal rights. We have laws in place for that already."

Two members of Lingle's security staff restricted entry to her press conference to only credentialed journalists, members of her administration, select legislators and invited guests.

After Lingle's announcement, HB 444 supporter Robert Bryant said he knew what Lingle would do weeks ago and showed up at the Capitol with four brightly colored signs castigating her veto.

"I don't know if I'm angry or embarrassed for Hawaii," Bryant said. "I guess I'm both. She could have shown aloha."

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