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 a remedy.

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.