By Derrick DePledge
A symposium on the religious exemption in a gay marriage bill that was scheduled for Wednesday evening at the state Capitol was cancelled. But James Hochberg, an attorney and president of Hawaii Family Advocates, who was supposed to be on the panel, showed up anyway.
Hochberg said he wanted to provide an explanation to people who might not have heard about the cancellation and came down to the Capitol. He answered questions about the religious exemption -- which he contends is inadequate -- for a handful of opponents of gay marriage in an otherwise empty Capitol auditorium.
The symposium was supposed to be moderated by Avi Soifer, the dean of the University of Hawaii law school.
Hochberg said he thought he was going to be on a panel with Lois Perrin, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii. But when he learned that Andrea Freeman, a UH assistant law professor, was added to the panel, he said he asked for an addition of his own.
He said he proposed that Soifer, the moderator, had to alternate between one side and the other, so there was equal time. He also said he was unhappy with a rule that people in the audience had to be completely quiet.
He claimed organizers only wanted panelists to talk about the proposed religious exemption, not things he believes are missing from the draft.
"Sorry that you came all the way down," he told the small audience. "It would have been fun, if they would have been fair."