Hawaii State House Approves Civil Unions Bill

by HRC Staff

Legislation now heads to Governor Lingle for consideration

HONOLULU - Equality Hawaii, the state's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, and the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization, today applauded the Hawaii State House for passing HB 444 by a 31-20 vote. The bill provides that equal rights and responsibilities of married couples in Hawaii be afforded to thousands of non-married couples in the state - including same-sex couples. The bill now heads to Governor Linda Lingle for her consideration.

"Equality Hawaii is proud of the actions taken by the fair-minded majority in the Hawaii State House to pass HB 444," said Alan Spector, legislative affairs co-chair for Equality Hawaii. "This bold declaration that all of Hawaii's families should be treated equally under the law is commendable and long overdue. We thank all those who have worked long and hard in this struggle for equality and urge Governor Lingle to immediately sign this bill into law."

Earlier this year, in a move chided by supporters and opponents alike, Speaker Calvin Say pushed through a motion to indefinitely postpone the bill. The final vote in the House came after supporters passed a motion to suspend the rules, allowing for a simple majority vote to consider the legislation. Without the suspension of the rules, the bill's supporters would have needed a two-thirds majority vote to consider the legislation.

"The Human Rights Campaign congratulates the Hawaii House of Representatives for recognizing that all families in Hawaii need the same protections," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "We have been a partner with advocates for equality in the Aloha State for decades and today we celebrate this victory with them. We strongly urge Governor Lingle to sign this bill into law to protect all Hawaii's families."

The Human Rights Campaign has worked closely with Equality Hawaii since 2008 to build both public and legislative support for HB 444. Through this joint effort, thousands of phone calls, emails, postcards and handwritten letters have been generated urging legislators to approve this legislation. HRC and Equality Hawaii are launching action alerts to our members in the state encouraging them to urge the Governor to sign the bill. More on HRC's work in Hawaii is at www.hrcbackstory.org/category/states/hawaii/.

The bill now moves to Governor Linda Lingle's desk where she may sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature after 45 days.

Equality Hawaii is dedicated to securing equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and their families in Hawaii. We envision a Hawaii in which LGBT people and their families have full equality in all areas of the law.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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