Republicans have approved a resolution calling on Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle to veto a bill that recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil unions. Lingle has less than five weeks to decide on the bill's future.

The resolution was approved by Hawaii Republican Party delegates attending the party's annual convention Saturday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, the Honolulu Advertiser reported.

At the convention, delegates wore red stickers that read “Veto HB444,” the civil unions bill.

The resolution calls on Lingle to protect marriage as a heterosexual institution and describes civil unions as “same-sex marriage in disguise or merely by another name.”

While “equal rights are guaranteed no matter a person's gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, no such guarantee exists for the institution of marriage,” the Republican resolution states.

During a break from the convention floor, Lingle said the bill approved by lawmakers was gay marriage without the name.

“It does appear to me on reading it, that it really is same-sex marriage, but by a different name,” she told reporters. “But I want to wait and hear people out.”

She also made it clear that she does not believe domestic partnerships are similar to marriage, an important distinction because as a candidate for governor Lingle promised she'd sign such a measure.

During a televised debate eight years ago, Lingle said: “On the issue of domestic partnerships, I have stated that if the Legislature [should] pass legislation granting certain rights I would not veto that legislation.”

The Republican governor, however, has remained mum on the issue of civil unions. And has chided lawmakers for not focusing on the economy during the current session.

The bill – sponsored by openly gay House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro – 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 then voted in favor of the measure in a 31-to-20 vote.

But while the Senate's approval was veto-proof, House members fell short by 3 votes. That leaves Lingle the final arbiter on whether the state will recognize gay unions or not. She has 45 days to decide whether to sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature. Officially that's July 6, but she'll need to make up her mind in less than five weeks. On June 22, she'll inform lawmakers about which bills she is planning to reject.

If approved, Hawaii would join New Jersey in recognizing gay couples with civil unions. Other states – including Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California – offer gay couples many of the rights and obligations of marriage with domestic partnerships. Five mostly New England states – Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa – and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Two states, New York and Maryland, recognize gay marriages performed outside their borders.