Civil Unions Now Imminent in Hawaii

The Hawaii state Senate yesterday approved civil unions legislation for the state. Approval by the state House, which last year passed similar legislation before it was vetoed by GOP Governor Lingle, is surely just a a formality. The new governor, Democrat Neil Abercrombie, has already promised to sign the legislation when (no longer if) it reaches his desk. Near-marriage, marriage in all but name, is on the way in Hawaii.

I particularly likes this statement from Senator  Solomon of Honokaa. In his formulation, this expression of Aloha sounds to me remarkably like a statement of the true spirit of Christianity:

“Let’s get beyond this. Let’s realize what the spirit of aloha is all about, which means including people no matter their color, no matter their gender, no matter their lifestyle,” said Sen. Malama Solomon, D-Hilo-Honokaa.

In my mind, only three questions remain:

  • When will the new legislation take effect? How long will it be before Hawaii’s same-sex couples will be able to tie the knot, and have their unions recognized by the state?
  • Which will be the next state to follow suit?
  • How long must we wait for “near-marriage” to  become full marriage equality, including the name?

From NECN:

Hawaii Senate approves same-sex civil unions

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Senate on Friday overwhelmingly approved civil unions for same-sex couples, a major step toward the proposal becoming law.

The state Senate voted 19-6 for the bill, which now goes to the state House of Representatives, where a nearly identical measure passed last year before it was vetoed by then-Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican.

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Civil Unions Advance, Hawaii

Hot on the heels of the gay marriage bills which have been introduced this month in Rhode Island and Maryland, a measure providing for near-marriage has passed a key stage in Hawaii.  This is not yet full marriage, but as the opponents recognize, it is pretty close to marriage in all but name, and is surely just a staging post on the road to full equality. It’s a long road, but civil unions in Hawaii will be an important landmark along the way.


Civil unions in Hawaii pass crucial first vote

A bill creating same-sex civil unions in Hawaii cleared a major hurdle Tuesday when it was narrowly approved by a key state Senate committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the legislation with a 3-2 vote following 2½ hours of passionate testimony from opponents wearing white shirts with buttons declaring “civil unions equals same-sex marriage” and supporters bearing rainbow lei.

“This is a matter of civil rights. We would no longer feel that we’re second-class citizens,” testified Gary Okabayashi of Honolulu, who has been in a relationship with his partner for 32 years. “We would have a sense of pride and integrity because the state has finally recognized us as equal.”

Democrats, who control the Hawaii Legislature, said they plan to pass the bill quickly and send it to new Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat who supports civil unions.

The bill is nearly identical to a measure that passed the Legislature last year before it was vetoed by Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

It would grant both same-sex and opposite-sex couples the ability to enter into a civil union with the same state rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage.

Advocates of civil unions said November’s elections showed that voters supported candidates who backed equal rights for gay and lesbian couples. Only one incumbent state legislator who backed civil unions lost re-election.

Opponents said legal recognition of gay partnerships would put the state on a path toward same-sex marriage.

Read more at NECN