Hawaii legislature passes civil unions bill - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii legislature passes civil unions bill

The audience cheers as the legislature passes the civil unions bill Tuesday. Photo by Jim Mendoza. The audience cheers as the legislature passes the civil unions bill Tuesday. Photo by Jim Mendoza.

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the Senate floor the roll call vote tallied 18 ayes and 5 no's. That led to a celebration in the gallery.

Supporters of the civil unions bill outnumbered opponents in attendance and applause.

The joy spilled outside.

"I think what you see today is a sign of changes in the times," Equality Hawaii's Alan Spector said.

Civil unions will give same-sex and opposite sex couples the rights, responsibilities and protections covered under marriage.

For proponents of the measure this day was years in the making.

"We have given hope to the staff here, hope to each other, hope to other advocates who thought their bills could never be passed," GLBT Caucus chair Jo-Ann Adams said.

Dwarfed by the celebration was the disappointment of the few opponents who showed up to witness the vote.

"I feel very grieved for us here. But I also will continue to pray for us because I think we need god even more in our islands," Stephanie Kon said.

"It's not the end. It's the beginning. Our God is victorious -- always has been and always will be," said Rev. Helen Brock of Song of Solomon Church.

A civil unions bill was introduced in 2009. It passed last year but was vetoed by then Gov. Linda Lingle.

This year's measure easily cleared the House and Senate.

"We are so happy. We're relieved that it's over," Spector said.

The "yes" vote on Senate Bill 232 is the last legislative hurdle. Governor Abercrombie said he'll sign the measure and make Hawaii the seventh state with a civil unions law.

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