More good news from Hawaii. In late January the Senate passed SB232, a civil unions bill "substantively similar" to the measure passed last year, by an overwhelmingly 19-6 vote. Last night the Hawaii House Judiciary Committee SB 232 by an 11-2 vote, reports the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
The state House Judiciary Committee voted last night to approve a civil-unions bill with amendments to ensure that the relationships are recognized in the tax code and are under the jurisdiction of family court.
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. The changes — recommended by the state Attorney General's Office — mean that if approved by the House, the bill must go back before the state Senate, which passed the bill last month, before going to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature.
"It's still fast-tracked. I think the Senate now has the opportunity just to agree to these amendments that probably should have been considered when it was first passed," Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran (D, Kahului-Paia), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said after the vote.
The full House is expected to vote on the bill by early next week.
HB 444, the previous Hawaii civil unions bill, passed the legislature in April 2010. Hawaii's twice-divorced and lame duck Republican Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed HB444 last July to "protect" traditional marriage. Democratic Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has "promised to sign whatever civil unions legislation is approved."