Hawaii State Senate Approves Civil Unions
January 28, 2011 by Tony Wagner, Western Regional Field Director
Today the Hawaii State Senate for passed SB 232, a bill recognizing civil unions in the state, by a 19-6 vote. The bill provides that the equal rights and responsibilities of married couples in Hawaii be available to thousands of same-sex couples in the state.
The state Senate now sends a strong message that the time is now to lay this issue to rest. Standing beside Equality Hawaii, the state’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, we here at HRC applaud the Hawaii State Senate for this important step forward. “For years we have strived to secure equal rights for all families in Hawaii and today we are one step closer to realizing that dream,” said Alan Spector, Co-Chair of Equality Hawaii. “We thank the Hawaii state Senate for recognizing the importance of this bill and for advancing the cause of equality in the Aloha State.”
Except for some technical corrections, SB 232 is identical to HB 444, the civil unions bill passed in 2010. That bill passed the House and Senate, with near supermajorities, before Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed it. No override vote was held. “The Hawaii Senate has sent a strong message that discrimination against families headed by same-sex couples is wrong,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “All people of Hawaii deserve to be treated with equal dignity and respect under the law, and no child should ever have to grow up feeling that their family is somehow less than that of their friends and neighbors.” The legislation now moves to the state house for its consideration. The House also has its own version of the bill, HB 1623, which incorporates updates to the previous bill. The updated bill addresses concerns raised in 2010 over the implementation of civil unions. The House may consider their own version, the Senate version or amend the senate bill to reflect their changes. Action is expected to proceed in the House next week. Following final passage, newly elected Governor Neil Abercrombie has pledged to sign the bill into law.
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