Approving a law that recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil unions would have a minimal impact on Hawaii's economy and government, a new study concludes.

The paper, which was authored by two University of Hawaii economists, Summer La Croix and Kimberly Burnett, found that the law would have an insignificant effect on tourism, state government revenues and spending and employer health insurance for civil union partners and their dependents.

“We concluded that the legalization of civil unions in Hawaii will have only a very minimal impact on any aspect of Hawaii's economy and state government operations,” La Croix and Burnett wrote.

Lawmakers approved the civil unions bill last month. Governor Linda Lingle must decide whether she'll sign the bill into law or veto it by June 22, the day she'll inform lawmakers about which measures she's planning to reject.

“The bill is a civil rights measure and should be decided on that moral basis, not on any perceived financial risk or benefit that passage poses for the state,” the Star Bulletin wrote in an editorial Friday.

The new study, however, should please Lingle's Republican ideals of fiscal responsibility. Opponents of gay rights who met with the governor on Monday said they believe she'll focus on the bill's “technicalities.”

Lingle said in 2002 that she would not veto a bill that recognizes gay couples with domestic partnerships, but she has also described civil unions as gay marriage in disguise.

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.”

La Croix and Burnett also believe that the state will likely see a small gain in state revenues due to civil union registration fees, excise taxes and state income taxes and a $7 million annual jump in tourism.