Gay and civil rights groups reacting to the news that Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has vetoed a bill that would have recognized gay couples with civil unions have announced they will sue the state.

Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (ACLU) shelved plans to sue the state in January after lawmakers revived – and eventually approved – the civil unions bill. But with Lingle's veto, the groups say they will proceed with their challenge.

“This was a sad surrender to political expediency that does not support business or family interests, but damages them,” Jennifer C. Pizer, national marriage project director for Lambda Legal, said in a release. “In caving in to a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign mounted by the bill's opponents, Governor Lingle has abandoned thousands of Hawaii families who have needed this bill's protections for many years.”

Lambda Legal won a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court case that struck down a law that limited marriage to heterosexual couples. But in approving the nation's first constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a heterosexual union, voters overturned the decision in 1998.

The amendment leaves the door open for other forms of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples such as civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Eight years ago, while campaigning for governor, Lingle said she would not veto a bill that creates domestic partnerships for gay couples.

The Hawaii Legislature has considered a civil unions bill every year since 2001.

“We're obviously disappointed that Governor Lingle has, once again, used her power to deny the people of Hawaii their civil rights,” Laurie Temple, staff attorney for the ACLU, said. “Luckily for the people of Hawaii, however, our constitution prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation. If the governor won't honor her oath to uphold the constitution, the courts will.”