A bill that would offer gay couples
identical benefits and responsibilities to marriage was approved by
the Hawaii Senate on Friday, according to the Hawaii Reporter.
The measure sailed thought the Senate
with a 19 to 6 vote. Five Democrats voted against the bill.
The Senate's Judiciary Committee
approved the measure on Tuesday 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.
Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie
defeated James “Duke” Aiona on November 2. Aiona, as lieutenant
governor, agreed with Lingle's decision and 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 1988 constitutional amendment granting lawmakers the power
to define marriage as a heterosexual union.
In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled
in favor of gay marriage advocates but allowed lawmakers to decide on
Abercrombie has pledged to sign the
measure, which now heads to the House.
If approved, Hawaii would become the
third state to offer the union behind New Jersey and Illinois, whose
governor will sign a similar measure into law on Monday.