Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle met Monday with opponents of a bill that would recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions, the local ABC affiliate KITV reported.

Lingle has less than four weeks to decide whether she'll sign the bill into law or veto it. Lawmakers approved the law last month, but House members fell 3 votes short of a veto-proof majority.

About three dozen gay rights opponents were shuffled into a two-hour private meeting with Lingle. The governor is scheduled to meet with supporters of the measure on Tuesday.

Attending the meeting was Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, who opposes the legislation.

Opposition to the bill has been led by the Hawaii Christian Coalition, whose leader, Garret Hashimoto, was among those meeting with the governor. Members of the group joined other opponents in holding a prayer circle outside the Capitol as the meeting took place.

Hashimoto told the television network that he believes Lingle will focus on how the bill would impact the state.

“Knowing the governor, she would want to focus on the bill itself; the legalities and technicalities,” he said.

Earlier in the month, Republicans meeting at their party's annual state convention approved a resolution calling on Lingle to veto the bill. The resolution urged Lingle to protect marriage as a heterosexual union and described civil unions as “same-sex marriage in disguise or merely by another name.”

Lingle has since said that the bill is gay marriage without the name.

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 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.

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.