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Judge denies bid to block start of civil unions Sunday

By Ken Kobayashi

LAST UPDATED: 5:02 p.m. HST, Dec 30, 2011

U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright denied this afternoon a request by two churches for a restraining order to block a law that goes into effect Sunday permitting same-sex couples to enter civil unions.

Joshua Wisch, spokesman for the attorney general's office, said as a result of the ruling, the civil unions law will "go into effect as planned on Jan. 1, 2012."

The Emmanuel Temple and the Lighthouse Outreach Center Assembly of God asked for the order.  

They argued that although they will be exempt from performing same-sex civil unions, they would face civil penalties and fines if they refused to rent their property for same-sex civil unions.

In a 17-page opinion, Seabright ruled that the churches have not shown they are entitled to the restraining order.

He said "it is clear that the present dispute is not ripe for the granting of a TRO."

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