On the final day of the legislative
session, the Hawaii House of Representatives has approved a civil
unions bill, the Honolulu Advertiser reported. The bill
grants both same-sex and heterosexual couples all the rights and
obligations of marriage.
In a 31-to-20 vote, representatives
approved the measure, which passed the Senate in January with a
veto-proof 18-to-7 vote.
The measure now heads to the desk of
Republican Governor Linda Lingle. Lingle has not said whether she
will sign or veto the bill. But she has chided lawmakers for not
focusing on economic issues.
House lawmakers shelved the bill
indefinitely last January, but Majority Leader Blake Oshiro made a
motion to bring back the measure late Thursday. Oshiro, a Democrat,
previously denied he would revive the measure.
As the session came to a close, gay
rights advocates continued to lobby lawmakers to approve the measure.
If approved, Hawaii would join five
states – California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington
state – in granting gay and lesbian couples most of the rights of
marriage except the name. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut,
Iowa, Vermont and the District of Columbia have legalized gay
Hawaii voters approved a constitutional
amendment that defined marriage as a heterosexual union in 1998,
overturning a state Supreme Court ruling that favored gay marriage