Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie will sign a bill that offers gay and lesbian couples benefits and responsibilities nearly identical to those of marriage on Wednesday, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.

Abercrombie will sign at Washington Place the civil unions bill approved by lawmakers. The governor had previously announced he would sign the bill on Thursday.

The Democratic governor pledged to sign the bill into law after the Hawaii Senate gave final approval to the measure last Wednesday.

“I have always believed that civil unions respect our diversity, protect people's privacy, and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha,” Abercrombie said in a statement. “For me this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii.”

Lawmakers approved a nearly identical bill last year, but then-Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, vetoed the measure after much public hand-wringing on the issue.

Hawaii becomes the third state to offer the union behind New Jersey and Illinois, whose governor signed a similar measure into law last month. Civil unions are also up for debate in Colorado and possibly Delaware.