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Okino apologizes to gays, agrees with nomination withdrawal

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 10:59 a.m. HST, Jan 26, 2013

Former City Councilman Gary Okino issued an apology this morning to gays, lesbians and their supporters, and said it was “appropriate” for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell to withdraw his nomination to the Ethics Board of Appeals following comments he made this week about homosexuals.

“The mayor’s action to withdraw my nomination was appropriate,” Okino said in a statement.

“In my overzealousness to respond to the allegations made against me by the testifiers (at) the committee meeting, I now realize that I may have unintentionally hurt the very people I was trying to help,” Okino said.

“To my gay brothers and sisters and their supporters, I deeply apologize if my words were hurtful rather than helpful," he said. "That was not my intent. In my eagerness to express what we believe is right and what is wrong, I had forgotten that we truly do belong to a loving God, and that He also asks us to treat people with the love, reverence and dignity that they deserve.”

At a City Council Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday, Okino told members querying him on his nomination that “I  have no tolerance for homosexuality” and that gay people “are in danger not only spiritually, but physically.”

Besides HIV, he said, “there is an outbreak now of anal, penile and throat cancers among the homosexual community.”

A devout Catholic, the 71-year-old Okino told Council members that faith and divine law tell him “that same-sex marriage and homosexuality (are) not pono … it’s immoral, it’s deviant.”

Okino’s nomination moved out of the executive matters committee and was to be up for a final vote at next Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Before Caldwell withdrew his name, Okino was criticized for his statements by gay rights advocates, and later City Council members.

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