Mayor Kirk Caldwell withdrew the appointment of former City Council member Gary Okino to the Ethics Board of Appeals Jan. 25 after Okino made anti-gay remarks in an Executive Matters and Legal Affairs committee meeting. The appointment was made by former Mayor Peter Carlisle.
“There is no place for discrimination of any kind in city government,” said Caldwell in a written statement.
At the meeting, Okino answered a question from Councilmember Ann Kobayashi about same-sex marriage by saying that he opposed it, stating, “That’s what my faith has demanded of me. To stand by what we believe should be the morality of this country. It’s not only that we’re against stealing, against drug abuse. But the divine law says that same-sex marriage and homosexuality is not pono.”
He continued on to claim that “They are in danger not only spiritually but physically.”
Despite his remarks, the nomination moved out of the committee meeting with no objections. Councilmembers Ikaika Anderson and Stanley Chang, however, indicated in advance that they would vote against Okino when the appointment came before the full council at the Jan. 30 regular meeting. Holly Huber of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church gave testimony on the appointment process, saying, “When it comes to appointments, there should not be a rubber stamp.” She called on councilmembers to perform due diligence and think more about the public interest than professional courtesy.
Okino issued a statement Jan. 26 apologizing to the gay community and saying he believed Caldwell’s decision was appropriate. Caldwell has not yet selected a nominee to replace Okino.