Hawaii Senate passes civil unions bill with 18-7 vote

Honolulu - The Hawaii Senate voted 18 to 7 in favor of same-sex civil unions Friday, potentially setting up the measure for final passage as soon as next week.

The bill would allow same-sex and heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.

"We're very pleased that the Hawaii State Senate took action and passed the civil unions bill today," Equality Hawaii Co-Chairwoman Tambry Young said in a written statement. "The Senate acted with great courage, conviction and integrity. They did the right thing for all of Hawaii's families."

The House has yet to decide if it will vote on the bill. House leaders say they will take up the bill if they have a veto-proof two-thirds majority but may let it die if they have only a small majority.

Five other states - Colorado, Wisconsin, Maryland, Maine and New Jersey - allow civil unions. Five states - Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut - permit same-sex marriage.


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