Hawaii lawmakers approve civil unions for gay couples

Source Reuters

Hawaii state legislators on Wednesday approved civil unions for gay couples, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie said he would sign it into law. The Hawaii Senate approved the proposed law by a vote of 18-5, sending it to Abercrombie for his signature. It had earlier been approved by the House. Throughout his campaign last fall, Abercrombie said he supported laws giving same-sex couples in civil unions the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage. "I have always believed that civil unions respect our diversity, protect people's privacy, and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha," Abercrombie said in a statement after the vote. "For me this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii." The law Abercrombie will sign is essentially the same as the measure that then-Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, vetoed in July when she cited a "flawed" legal process as her reason for not giving her approval. It would make the Aloha State the seventh state to grant essentially the same rights of marriage to same-sex couples through civil unions or similar laws.