The Hawaii state senate has approved a measure which will allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. As the state house had already approved the same bill, it now moves to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's desk for his signature (he has already stated that he will sign the bill within 10 days). Civil unions will go into effect at the beginning of 2012.
The state legislature had already passed a civil unions bill last year, but it was killed by then-governor Linda Lingle's veto. This will be Ms. Lingle's legacy: a mere roadblock on the ceaseless path towards equal rights.
I applaud Hawaii's legislature's overwhelmingly popular decision to grant same-sex couples the same rights that married couples are allowed under state law. However, until marriage equality comes to Hawaii and the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed, those same-sex couples will still be treated as second class, prevented from receiving the rights and privileges afforded to straight couples under federal law.
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