A bill that would offer gay and lesbian couples identical benefits and responsibilities to marriage goes before a Hawaii House panel on Tuesday, the AP reported.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on the civil unions measure on Tuesday starting at 2:15PM in the House conference room auditorium.

The measure sailed through the Senate in the final week of January. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure with a 3-2 vote on Tuesday and by Friday the full Senate had agreed with a 19 to 6 vote.

A nearly identical bill was approved last year by the Legislature, but then-Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, vetoed the measure.

Lingle's lieutenant governor, James “Duke” Aiona, who agreed with Lingle's decision and pledged to back an amendment that would ban government recognition of all gay unions, was defeated by Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie on November 2, paving the way for a renewed push for the legislation this year.

Abercrombie has pledged to sign the civil unions bill into law.

In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage advocates but allowed lawmakers to decide on a remedy.

If approved, Hawaii would become the third state to offer the union behind New Jersey and Illinois, whose governor signed a similar measure into law last month.