Hawaii's House voted to approve a bill granting unmarried gay and straight couples the same rights as married ones under state law yesterday by a vote of 31-20, the Honolulu Advertiser reports, sending the bill to Gov. Linda Lingle for final approval. The bill would make Hawaii the fourth state in the nation to legalize civil unions as an alternative to full gay marriage.
But Lingle's signature isn't a sure thing; she'd urged the legislature to skip the bill and focus instead on the state's budget deficit. If she does veto it, there are enough votes in the Senate to override, but the House is three short. Hawaiians voted for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman in 1998, something Minority Leader Gene Ward reminded his colleagues of before the vote yesterday. (Read more Hawaii stories.)