A bill that would offer gay and lesbian
couples identical benefits and responsibilities to marriage was
approved by a Hawaii Senate panel on Tuesday, ABC-affiliate KITV
The Judiciary Committee approved the
measure with a 3-2 vote.
The civil unions measure is nearly
identical to a bill approved last year by the Legislature and vetoed
by then-Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican. In announcing her
decision, Lingle said that she believed civil unions are “essentially
same-sex marriage by another name.”
Voters on November 2 rejected Lingle's
lieutenant governor, James “Duke” Aiona, to succeed her in the
Governor's Mansion in favor of Democrat Neil Abercrombie. Aiona had
pledged to back an amendment that would ban government recognition of
all gay unions, closing the option for civil unions or domestic
partnerships left open by a 1998 constitutional amendment granting
lawmakers the power to define marriage as a heterosexual union. The
measure overruled a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that favored gay
marriage advocates. Abercrombie said he supported recognizing gay
couples with civil unions.
The measure now goes to the full Senate
before moving to the House.