Hawaii legislature approves civil unions
HONOLULU, Hawaii: On Thursday, the Hawaii House of Representatives voted 31-20 to approve HB 444, which provides gay and lesbian couples with the same rights and benefits the state provides married couples. The measure still requires the signature of Gov. Linda Lingle, who has not stated if she would sign it or not. She has until early July to decide. If signed into law, Hawaii would become the sixth state to grant civil union status, joining California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.
The measure came as a surprise to many, as the legislation was thought to be dead. The Senate had passed it in January, but the House refused to take a vote. Democratic House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro brought it up on the last day of the legislative session. If the legislation is vetoed, the Legislature would have to hold a special session in order to try to overturn it.