Republican gubernatorial candidate James “Duke” Aiona has promised to back an amendment banning gay marriage in the Hawaii Constitution.

In 1998, voters approved a constitutional amendment granting the state Legislature the power to reserve marriage as a heterosexual union. Civil unions remain an option. The decision overruled a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that favored gay marriage advocates.

Aiona, who currently serves as the state's lieutenant governor, said if elected he would propose a constitutional amendment in 2012 to ask voters whether marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman, the Star Advertiser reported.

Lawmakers last session narrowly approved a bill that recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil unions, but Republican Governor Linda Lingle vetoed the measure.

In announcing her decision, Lingle said that she believes civil unions are “essentially same sex marriage by another name.”

Aiona agrees, meaning his amendment will likely attempt to ban any recognition of gay unions, including civil unions.

Openly gay House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro has promised to reintroduce his civil unions legislation in the next session, if reelected.

Democrat Neil Abercrombie has said that he will sign the civil unions bill into law if he becomes governor. The former congressman supported the 1998 constitutional amendment that allows lawmakers to define marriage.

“It was a bill about civil rights and responsibilities under the constitution, and did not constitute – in my judgment – anything approaching a revision or recalculation or redefinition of marriage,” Abercrombie said, referring to the civil unions bill.