The Hawaii state Senate voted on Friday in favor of legalizing civil unions in the state. The state Senate voted for the measure with a “veto-proof” 18 to 7 vote. Only 13 votes were needed for the measure to pass. The state House is expected to consider the measure sometime this week. According to the Washington Post, it is unclear whether there will be a veto-proof majority in the state House. Democratic Speaker of the state House Calvin Say, said, “It’s very close…During an election year, this issue is so divisive that it may hurt many of our members.” During debate on the bill, state Senator Gary Hooser (D) said, “Regardless of religion or ethnicity, man or woman, gay or straight — all people deserve to be treated equally with the same respect, the same freedom, the same dignity, the same rights and benefit under the law,” according to Hawaii News Now. The civil union legislation would grant both gay and straight partners the same rights and benefits accorded to married couples in Hawaii. Civil unions are currently legal in five states (Colorado, Wisconsin, Maryland, Maine, and New Jersey). Same sex marriage is currently legal in five additional states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont). Washington, DC, approved same sex marriage legislation in December 2009 and is waiting for a mandatory 30 day congressional review period to expire before the legislation becomes law. Legislation to legalize same sex marriage was recently defeated in New York and New Jersey. Proceedings are currently 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.