Hawaii officials expect to begin
issuing civil union licenses for gay and lesbian couples by December
3, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.
However, Hawaii's civil unions law
won't take effect until January 1, 2012, and civil union licenses
expire after 30 days.
Officials are issuing the early
licenses to allow couples in a reciprocal beneficiary relationship to
obtain necessary paperwork to have a ceremony after the law's start
on January 1.
The state began offering the union to
couples in 1997. It allows access to a limited number of state
benefits, including inheritance rights, workers' compensation, health
insurance, hospital visitation and healthcare decision making.
Couples in a reciprocal beneficiary relationship can also jointly own
Couples moving from a RBR to a civil
union could find fall into a “gap period” where neither is in
effect, placing necessary benefits such as insurance coverage at
Hawaii and four other states – New
Jersey, Illinois, Rhode Island and Delaware – have legalized civil
unions, while six states – Connecticut, New Hampshire, Iowa,
Massachusetts, Vermont and, most recently, New York – and the
District of Columbia recognize gay couples with full marriage.
Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie
the bill into law in February.