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Hawaii Legislature Approves Civil Union Bill

The Hawaii state House voted in favor of legalizing civil unions in the state yesterday after an unexpected decision by the bill’s sponsor to revive the legislation. The House voted in favor of the bill on a 31 to 20 vote. The Hawaii state Senate voted in January in favor of legalizing civil unions in the state with a “veto-proof” 18 to 7 vote. Only 13 votes were needed for the measure to pass in the state Senate. The civil union legislation would grant both gay and straight partners the same rights and benefits accorded to married couples in Hawaii. House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, the bill’s sponsor, told the Honolulu Advertiser after the vote that “Martin Luther King has said it best. The arc of history is long, and once in awhile you get to bend it correctly, and today, we bent it in the right way, towards justice.” Hawaii Governer Linda Lingle (R) now has 45 days to sign the bill into law. According to the Honolulu Advertiser, it is unclear whether she plans to do so. Though the bill was passed with a veto-proof majority in the state Senate, the state House would need a two-thirds vote in favor of the bill to override a gubernatorial veto. Civil unions are currently legal in six states (Colorado, Wisconsin, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, and Washington). Same sex marriage is currently legal in five additional states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont) and the District of Columbia. Legislation to legalize same sex marriage was recently defeated in New York and New Jersey. Proceedings are still underway in the trial that will decide whether California’s Proposition 8, the November 2008 ballot initiative that overturned the right of same-sex marriage in the state, is constitutional.

Sources:

Honolulu Advertiser 4/30/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/25/10

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