The Hawaii state legislature announced that it had passed a bill that would legalize same sex civil unions. With the passage of the bill the governor of the state said that he planned to sign the bill into law within 10 days. As the bill then went into effect, civil unions would be legal starting in January of 2012.
According to media reports the bill was passed in the state senate by a vote of 18-5 in favor. The bill had passed the House last Friday. The passage of the bill ends a very long road for those who are in favor of civil unions in the state.
The bill does not approve same sex marriages. However, the civil unions bill will grant gay and lesbian couples receive the same rights as married heterosexual couples. With the passage of the bill Hawaii now becomes the seventh state to pass rights to same sex couples that are close to those experienced by heterosexual couples.
There was some opposition to the unions. Most of the opposition came from Christian groups who claim that civil unions are destroying the family and the concept of marriage. They also feel that the passage of civil unions could lead to the legalization of same sex marriages.
Hawaii had come close to passing a similar bill last year. At that time the state had a Republican governor who vetoed the bill. That governor was not able to run for the position again and the state elected a new Democratic governor last November.
The state has a history of being a battleground for those who support same sex marriages. Back in 1993 the state Supreme Court passed a decision that almost legalized same sex marriages. Voters, however, were given a chance to decide the issue and the law did not go into effect while the public debated. Hawaii then passed a state constitutional amendment that reserved marriage for opposite-sex couples only.