Next to Approve Same-Sex Unions? Hawaii
Senate approves civil unions bill; Gov. Neil Abercrombie will sign
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 17, 2011 6:30 AM CST
Kristin Bacon of Honolulu wipes away tears of joy after the Hawaii Senate voted 18-5 to approve the Civil Unions bill at the Hawaii State Capitol Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 in Honolulu.   (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
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(Newser) – Hawaii’s state Senate yesterday approved a bill that provides same-sex couples who enter into civil unions with essentially the same rights and benefits as traditional marriage. It's now off to the governor, who has pledged to sign it into law, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. “I have always believed that civil unions respect our diversity, protect people's privacy, and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement upon hearing the news.

“Everyone has been heard; all points of view respected,” Abercrombie noted. "For me, this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii.” A similar bill that passed by legislators last year was vetoed by the then-governor. Hawaii will be the seventh state to allow civil unions; five states currently allow same-sex marriage.