Friday, April 30, 2010

Hawaii Legislature Approves Civil Unions For Gay Couples

 On Top Magazine is reporting that the Hawaii Legislature has approved civil unions for gay couples.  The vote seems especially significant because the Hawaii Supreme Court was the first to rule in favor of same-sex unions back in the mid 1990's.  A subsequent amendment to the constitution prohibited same-sex marriage in 1998.

The new bill grants both same-sex and heterosexual couples all the rights and obligations of marriage.  It passed the Senate  in January with a veto-proof 18-to-7 vote.

The measure now heads to the governor's desk, Republican Linda Lingle. Lingle has not said whether she will sign or veto the bill. But she has criticized lawmakers for not focusing on economic issues. (Someone should tell the Governor that for LGBT couples, marriage is the ultimate economic issue.)

If approved, Hawaii would join five states – California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington state – in granting gay and lesbian couples most of the rights of marriage except the name. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage.  Civil unions are not marriage and for many of us feel like "separate but equal."  But this is progress.  Remember the outrage over the civil unions bill in Vermont only about ten years ago?  And remember: three of the marriage states started out as civil union states.  If the bill becomes law in Hawaii, it would mean that one fifth of the states in the country offer civil unions or marriage to LGBT couples.

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