HRC Blog

Hawaii Update: Civil Unions Moving Forward

HI Pictures 029In 2009, the Hawaii State House passed HB 444 -- a bill to allow same-sex couples to enter civil unions -- with 33 votes, one vote shy of a super-majority.  Unfortunately the bill was held up in the state Senate until the end of the session when it was recalled from the Senate Judiciary Committee and successfully went through first and second readings in that chamber.  The Senate then amended the bill to include opposite sex couples – in effect pushing the third reading and final vote off to 2010.  Hawaii’s session lasts two years, so the bill holds over through the summer and fall. Now that legislators are coming back into session, the Senate has pledged to take up the bill in the first two weeks of the session, which begins on January 20.  Senate Judiciary Chair Brian Tanaguchi has said publicly that the bill will pass the Senate. Republican Gov. Linda Lingle recently stated that she would prefer the legislature not take up this legislation and focus on Hawaii’s economic problems. However Gov. Lingle has not said that she would veto the bill and she has allowed previous LGBT legislation to become law without her signature. Advocates at Equality Hawaii have launched a new photo exhibit that captures the diversity of families in the state.  Showcasing 20 different families, the photos illustrate the common dreams and struggles faced by every family in the Aloha State.  We'll keep you updated on the legislation here at HRC Back Story.

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