HONOLULU (Reuters) - Governor Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday signed into law a bill allowing same-sex civil unions, making Hawaii the seventh U.S. state to grant essentially the same rights as marriage to gay couples.
“This signing today of this measure says to all the world that they are welcome, that everyone is a brother or a sister in paradise. The legalization of civic unions in Hawaii represents in my mind, equal rights,” Democrat Abercrombie said in signing the measure, his first as governor.
The Hawaii Senate last week approved the proposed law by a vote of 18-5. It had earlier been passed by the House.
A similar bill was passed by the Hawaii state legislature in 2010 but vetoed by then-governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, who cited a “flawed” legal process.
Throughout his campaign last fall, Abercrombie said he supported laws giving same-sex couples in civil unions the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of spouses
“Today marks a big step toward full equality for lesbian and gay people in the Aloha state,” said Jennifer Pizer, national marriage project director for the gay rights group Lambda Legal.
Reporting by Suzanne Roig, writing by Dan Whitcomb, editing by Greg McCune