April 30th, 2010
10:44 AM ET

Hawaii legislators pass civil unions bill

Legislators in Hawaii have passed a civil unions bill that would give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

The state's House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 31-20 late Thursday. Gov. Linda Lingle has until early July to decide whether to sign the bill into law, CNN's Hawaii affiliates reported.

Civil union supporters cheered in the capitol rotunda when the bill passed, affiliate KGMB said.

"I was always positive even when people were saying it was dead. I stayed positive and worked with a lot of different people that made this happen today," Tambry Young of Equality Hawaii told KGMB.

Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona said the bill should not have been allowed to become law.

"The state House's last-minute political maneuvering is unfortunate for the people of Hawaii who have voiced their support for traditional marriage," he said in a statement. "If the legislature wanted to establish the equivalent of same-sex marriage, they should have put it on the ballot for the people to decide."

The bill, HB 444, provides state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples. Voting came as a surprise on the last day of the legislative session, affiliates reported.

House members voted in January to shelve the bill after House Speaker Calvin Say said they didn't have a veto-proof majority, affiliate KITV reported. House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, however, called for the measure to be discussed Thursday afternoon, KITV said.

Larry Silva, Catholic bishop of Honolulu, urged people Friday to ask the governor for a veto.

"We need you to mount a campaign to flood the governor's office with requests to veto the bill," Silva wrote on the diocese's website. "Should the governor veto the bill, they will need 34 votes to override. This is where you come in!"

Supporters including Equality Hawaii said they hadn't expected a vote Thursday but were pleased with the outcome. Say said he was "very proud" of having passed the bill.

"I'm happy that it's finally done," supporter Vincent Rosa told KGMB. "The vote was taken and democracy was at work at this capital."

"I did not know all day this was going to happen," civil unions advocate Alan Spector told KHON. "This was a surprise. I'm very happy."

Currently, five U.S. states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Hawaii would join New Jersey in allowing civil unions.

Three states - Rhode Island, New York, and Maryland - recognize same-sex marriages from other states, according to the NCSL.

California recognizes same-sex marriages performed during six months in 2008, after the California Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to marry and before the passage of Proposition 8, which overturned the court's decision, the NCSL said.

Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Politics • U.S.
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. David Haworth

    I hope all the homosexuals move to Hawaii and leave the main land.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Wanda Newton

      David, I have been researching for members of the 497th Fighter Inteceptor Squadron (Air Force) and a David "Speedy" Haworth has been mentioned by a buddy. If you are the David Haworth (originally from RI, please contact me by email. Some of your friends would like to hear from you. This is no hoax, I have been committed for almost four years now to finding the 497th members who served together in Spokane WA and then onto Torrejon Air Base in Madrid Spain. Thank you so kindly.

      June 15, 2010 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. Steve Leong

    Praise God for giving strength to Hawaii's House and Senate to vote for what is "right" rather than what the bullies push. While "Goliath" hordes of anti-equality, groups marched in support of taking away the rights of others born differently from themselves, our legislature stood in favor of "David", despite their hateful threats! These same groups have poured obscene amounts of money into this initiative, while people in the nation go hungry, homeless, and without ... "jus no make sense". God created gays for God's reason...curb the overpopulation, find loving homes for children abandoned by straights, we need to trust in God's plan. People worry that their children will be confused. No, what they will learn instead, is treating others, despite their differences with compassion, equality, and fairness.Those who stick with their judgements, anger, condemnation, and crucifixion will just reap the same. Gays, lesbians and transgendered children are born to EVERY FAMILY, despite race, religion, philosophy or class! How you treat them will determine your karma. You're not fighting these people with your judgements, you're fighting GOD!

    April 30, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. James Johnson

    I'd love to move to Hawaii David, but then I wouldn't get to see you. And that would make me sad because I really love bigots.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sam Kestu

    When she was campaigning for Hawaii governor, in September 2002, Linda Lingle promised the LGBT communities that she would sign a Civil Unions bill if "such legislation came across her desk."

    She said she "wouldn't introduce it" and "wouldn't push it" [Civil Unions legislation].

    Now we will see if she will keep her word.

    May 1, 2010 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. praca

    ou did a forgiving contribution creating a laws conducive to photographers like me with no attention with stock. You explained so much that I needed to know. I decrypt it with important interest. You are a sfa writer. I’m gratified to confessor met you and understand that you are as useful and approachable as your genesis indicates. Your armed forces is appreciated.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |