700 in Hawaii obtain civil union license - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

700 in Hawaii obtain civil union license

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Tambry Young Tambry Young
Saralyn Morales Saralyn Morales
Chuck Spence Chuck Spence

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now) - It's been a year since Hawaii enacted the civil union law.

And since then, about 700 same-sex couples have legally tied the knot.

"Not only locally but nationally, you're seeing a change and a shift in people feeling more positive and confident about supporting the LGBT community and seeking it as equal rights," said Tambry Young, president of Citizens for Equal Rights.

Under Hawaii's law, same-sex couples receive the same rights, benefits and legal protections that heterosexual couples.

Hilo resident Saralyn Morales was one of the first to legalize her partnership.

"The biggest benefit for me was the name recognition and being able to change my last name and now my name is Morales and the other thing was to be able to add her onto my medical insurance," Morales said.

It's not yet a tourism boom but gay and lesbian advocacy groups say hotel operators are beginning to see a benefit as well.

Chuck Spence, owner of the 26-room Maui Seeker LGBT Resort in Kihei, says his hotel has handled about 50 civil union ceremonies since the law was passed this year.

"The primary impact is you get people and their friends coming for the wedding," said Spence.

"The secondary impact is you get the crowds who feel welcome because of the passage of the law and knowing that Hawaii does not discriminate."

Gay and Lesbian advocacy groups say the economic benefits would be much larger if Hawaii had a law allowing same-sex marriage.

The idea, they say, is that more people would travel to Hawaii to get married versus just coming here for a civil union.

 

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