Friday, April 30, 2010

Hawaii Passed Homosexual Civil Unions Bill

The Hawaii House passed the legislation by a 31-20 margin, following the Senate's passage in January.

-- From "Hawaii Lawmakers OK Civil Unions, Send Bill to Governor" by Mark Niesse, Associated Press 4/30/10

Republican Gov. Linda Lingle hasn't said whether she'll reject it or sign it into law, but her office said later that she will carefully review the bill.

The measure would grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits that the state provides to married couples. If approved, Hawaii will become one of six states -- along with California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington -- to grant essentially all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself.

Five other states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage: Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The issue has proved divisive in Hawaii with religious groups arguing that civil unions are a step toward legalizing same-sex marriage. During one of the biggest ever state rallies, several thousand people protesting the measure rode buses to the Hawaii Capitol last year following Sunday church services.

Hawaii's civil union legislation appeared to be dead in January
, when the House didn't take a vote on the measure and postponed it indefinitely out of fears that Lingle would veto.

The issue was revived Thursday after every other bill introduced this year had been acted on. Democratic House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro made the motion to reconsider the bill, although the House fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the governor.

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