It's not marriage, but it was a huge
victory when Hawaii's gay-inclusive civil unions law took effect at
midnight on New Year's Eve.
The law caps off a decades-long
struggle for marriage rights that started in the early 90s.
In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court was
the first in the nation to declare a ban on marriage for gay couples
unconstitutional, but the court remanded the case to the trial court.
Before the case returned to the state's highest court, voters
approved a constitutional amendment that gave lawmakers the right to
decide on marriage, which it did by passing a gay marriage ban.
A civil unions law was narrowly
approved by lawmakers in 2010, but then-Governor Linda Lingle, a
Republican, vetoed the bill on the last possible day to announce her
decision. She said she rejected the bill because it was too similar
In February, Governor Neil Abercrombie,
a Democrat, happily signed the bill into law in front of a cheering
Four gay couples inaugurated the law at
the stroke of midnight during a celebration organized by a coalition
of groups including Citizens for Equal Rights and Honolulu Pride.
similar law in Delaware took effect on January 1 at 10AM. Hawaii
and Delaware join New Jersey, Illinois and Rhode Island in offering