The Hawaii House on Friday approved a
bill that would offer gay and lesbian couples identical benefits and
responsibilities to marriage, the Star Advertiser reported.
Lawmaker approved the legislation with
a 31 to 19 vote.
A similar 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.
The bill now heads back to the Senate
to approve differences between the two bills.
Changes in the House bill include a
provision clarifying taxes and another on matters of annulment,
divorce and separation.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee
called the changes reasonable.
Lawmakers approved a nearly identical
bill last year, but then-Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, vetoed
the measure. Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, has pledged to
sign the civil unions bill into law.
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.