HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With supporters seated on one side of the Senate gallery and opponents on the other, the arguments over civil unions reached a peak before a roll call vote.
"It's not the legislature's intent to revise the definition or eligibility requirements of marriage," Senate majority leader Brickwood Galuteria said.
"This will force same-sex marriage on the people of Hawaii who have consistently shown their opposition," Sen. Mike Gabbard said.
Senate Bill 232 gives same-sex and heterosexual partners protections, rights and responsibilities married couples share.
"What they want to do basically is to blur and then erase the lines between civil unions, domestic partnerships, reciprocal beneficiaries, any name you want, and marriage," Sen. Sam Slom said.
"I don't need a definition for the word equal," Sen. Clayton Hee said.
Lawmakers who favor the measure argued the state has more pressing business to tackle like the economy and job creation.
Opponents cautioned there's no need to rush to a decision.
A roll call vote showed 19 senators for civil unions and 6 against.
"It concerns me that our state is moving in a direction different than our family vision," Ewa Beach resident Mike McGuire said.
"I honestly think that every marriage should start out as a civil union, the way that they do in Europe," Laurie Cicotello said.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives where the arguments and the outcome are expected to be the same.