News (USA)

Hawaii state Senate OKs civil unions bill, measure heads to the House

The state Senate voted 18-7 on Friday to approve a bill recognizing civil unions in Hawaii, giving gay and opposite sex partners the same rights and benefits as married couples.

The bill now goes back to the House, which passed it last year, but has yet to decide if it will vote on the bill.

House leaders say they will take up the bill if they have a veto-proof two-thirds majority but may let it die if they have only a small majority.

The Senate’s Democratic majority has enough votes to override a possible veto from Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

Lingle has urged the Legislature to drop the issue but hasn’t said whether she would reject the bill if passed.

Sen. Roz Baker, a Maui Democrat, said the issue is “about equal treatment … how the law views individuals who may look at things differently than we do.”

“There are all kinds of families and all kinds of relationships and they all deserve to be treated equally,” Baker said.

If passed in its current form, the effective date is retroactive to January 1st. The state attorney general advised lawmakers this was not a fatal flaw but lawmakers say it could end up being a technicality over which the governor could veto if not on the issue itself.

More from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

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