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