By Holly Juscen – bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many are calling it a very historic moment for Hawaii, and it's big step towards a huge victory for civil union supporters. In a surprise last minute vote, the Hawaii House of Representatives passed the controversial civil unions bill with a 31-20 vote just as the legislative session was ending.
There were cheers and celebrations in the State Capitol rotunda as civil union supporters reacted to the vote. Spearheading the effort, House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, who revived HB444 at the last minute.
"I'm extremely, extremely proud of this day, because Martin Luther King said it best ' The arc of history is long and once and a while you get to bend it correctly ' and Thursday we bent it in the right direction toward justice" said Oshiro.
Representative John Mizuno voted against the bill.
"I was in opposition, but it was very historic. Blake Oshiro, the majority leader was a hero for this bill. I have a lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for the gay and lesbian community."
House Speaker Calvin Say was pleased with the outcome.
"We had a great discussion on Bill 444 in our caucus, and we decided to take the wishes of the general public at large and go out and take a vote. The vote was overwhelming. Over 30 for the motion, and I am very proud what we have accomplished on this particular issue."
The measure would give unmarried same-sex couples and heterosexual couples the same rights under state law.
"I'm happy that it's finally done. The vote was taken and democracy was at work at this capital" said Vincent Rosa, a civil union supporter.
Tambry Young, of Equality Hawaii, said it's been a long time coming.
"I was always positive even when people were saying it was dead. I stayed positive and worked with a lot of different people that made this happen today."
Lt. Governor, Duke Aiona, is against the bill and released this statement:
"If the Legislature wanted to establish the equivalent of same-sex marriage, they should have put it on the ballot for the people to decide. This bill should not be allowed to become law."