Hawai'i passes Civil Unions

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Photo Credit: neekinator via Flickr CC

Congratulations go out to the state of Hawai'i for the passage of HB 444 that will enact civil unions.
In response to the passage of the bill, HB 444,Lambda Legal Marriage Project Advisor Jennifer Pizer issued the following statement:
"Today's vote was down to the wire, but it represents years of steady work by Hawai`i's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and by concerned state legislators.  There's no denying it's been a bumpy road,but like all arduous journeys, it makes the destination that much sweeter. After the seeming death of HB 444 last January, Lambda Legal and our colleagues at the ACLU of Hawai`i announced we would file a lawsuit seeking relief for the thousands of couples who need the very real protectionscivil unions will provide.  In fact, we were already on O`ahu this week in final preparations for litigation if the legislature failed to act bytoday's end of session.  We're delighted that, as long as Governor Lingle does not veto the bill, our lawsuit won't be necessary."

Hawai`i's constitution was amended in 1998 to allow the Legislature to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples, which it has done.  This means same-sex couples cannot sue for full equality through marriage.  Although civil unions are a lesser status than marriage, they will provide a full range of state law protections and duties to gay and lesbian couples, such as access to the same legal mechanisms as spouses for securing parent-child relationships, access to family court and clear duties to pay child support and alimony as spouses must, and other vital protections.   The current "reciprocal beneficiaries" system not only fails to provide many basic rights but also sends a harmful message that the state views same-sex couples as less worthy of a full range of rights and protections.

Governor Lingle has 45 days to sign or veto the bill, or to allow it to take effect without her signature.

Tell governor Lingle to sign this bill into law
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