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Hawaii Senate approves same-sex civil unions

[JURIST] The Hawaii Senate [official website] voted 18-7 Friday in favor of legislation [text, PDF] allowing same-sex civil unions [JURIST news archive]. The act would confer upon homosexual and heterosexual couples rights and benefits equal to those afforded married couples in the state. Originally introduced [materials] last year, public notice requirements forced a vote on the matter to be delayed after an amendment was adopted one day prior to the close of the legislative session. The bill now returns to the House [official website], though leaders indicate that they may decline to act on it if they do not have sufficient support to override a potential veto from Governor Linda Lingle [official profile].

The New Jersey Senate defeated legislation to allow same-sex marriage earlier this month, and the New York Senate did so [JURIST reports] in December. In November, Maine voters vetoed a same-sex marriage bill passed by that state's legislature, while Washington voters approved expanded domestic partnership rights [JURIST reports]. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire, and is set to become legal in Washington DC [JURIST reports], pending Congressional inaction. New Jersey has recognized same-sex civil unions [JURIST report] since 2006.

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