February 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Hawaii civil unions bill advances to governor

The Hawaii State Legislature has completed passage of legislation that would enact civil unions in the Aloha State and sent the measure to Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) for his signature.

On Wednesday, the Hawaii Senate passed the civil unions bill in its amended form by a vote of 18-5. The House had already approved the legislation last week by a vote of 31-19.

Abercrombie has stated that he supports civil unions and is expected to the sign the legislation when it reaches his desk. Once signed, the measure will take effect on Jan. 1.

Last year, the Hawaii Legislature also passed a civil unions measure, but then-Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, vetoed the legislation.

Alan Spector, co-chair of Equality Hawaii, said passage of the measure demonstrates the Legislature’s commitment to the LGBT community.

“For the second time in less than a year, legislators have dedicated themselves to providing dignity and respect to all families in the Aloha State,” he said.

LGBT advocates pursued civil unions legislation as opposed to a marriage bill this year because the Hawaii state constitution prohibits same-sex marriage. In 1998, Hawaii’s constitution was amended to allow the Legislature to restrict to one man and one woman, which it has done.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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