Hawaii State Senate Committee Deadlocks on Civil Unions Bill But Legislation May Still Move to Senat

by HRC Staff

Bill can still move to senate floor if nine of 25 state senators vote for recall bill would provide gay and lesbian couples rights provided to married couples under state law.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group, issued a statement today regarding a vote in Hawaii's state Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee early this morning on a pending civil unions bill. The committee deadlocked at 3-3 on the bill, but it still may advance to the Senate floor for a vote.

"Today's vote means that the question now is whether nine of 25 state Senators agree that this important legislation, which would simply grant basic rights and protections to all committed couples and families in Hawaii, should go to a floor vote before the whole Senate." said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We hope that they do agree to recall the bill from committee and that it passes the Senate and is enacted into law."

Hawaii's state constitution permits the Senate president to recall the bill from committee so that it may receive a floor vote before the full Senate. One-third of the Senate, or nine of its 25 members, would have to agree to recall the bill 20 days from now in order for it to receive a floor vote.

The legislation, which has already passed the House of Representatives by a 33-17 vote, would permit gay and lesbian couples to enter into civil unions and receive the rights, benefits, and responsibilities under Hawaii law that are granted to spouses. Couples who enter into a civil union would not receive any rights, benefits, or responsibilities under federal law.

Hawaii does not permit gay or lesbian couples to marry. Hawaii law currently permits couples prohibited from marrying in the state to enter into reciprocal beneficiary relationships and receive limited rights and benefits, not all the rights and responsibilities provided to married couples under state law.

In addition to Hawaii, 10 states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples. Massachusetts and Connecticut recognize marriage for gay and lesbian couples under state law. Five other states-California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont-plus Washington, D.C. provide gay and lesbian couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Maine and Washington provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits, not all the rights provided to married couples. New York recognizes marriages by gay and lesbian couples validly entered into outside of New York.

Gay and lesbian couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. To learn more about state by state legislation visit: www.hrc.org/state-laws.

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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