The author of Hawaii's civil unions bill, House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, is openly gay.

The bill that grants both gay and straight couples all the rights and obligations of marriage was left for dead last January when lawmakers voted to shelve it after senators had overwhelmingly approved the measure, but on the last day of the legislative session Oshiro made a motion to bring it back.

Representatives voted last month to approve the measure in a 31-to-20 vote, just 3 votes shy of a veto-proof majority. A vote 40-year-old Oshiro called “heartwarming.”

The measure is now on Republican Governor Linda Lingle's desk. Lingle has not said whether she'll sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature, but she has previously chided lawmakers for not focusing on economic issues. While she officially has 45 days to decide, she'll need to make up her mind by June 22. That's the day she'll inform lawmakers about which bills she is planning to reject.

When asked if being gay influenced his decision to press for civil unions for gay couples, Oshiro, who rarely speaks to the media about his sexual orientation, told local ABC affiliate KITV: “Not too much. I've always just been a strong supporter. And it's an issue that's been around since 2000.”

Oshiro, a Democrat, knew that rescuing the marooned bill could hurt his political career in a state that remains conservative on gay rights. He is preparing for a difficult campaign to keep his job. He'll face Honolulu Councilman Gary H. Okino, a social conservative and outspoken opponent of the civil unions bill, in the fall. Okino and his supporters are certain to make the legislation an issue during the campaign.