Hawaiian governor signs civil unions bill into law

Wed. February 23, 2011 11:35 PM by GoPride.com News Staff

Honolulu, Hawaii - Hawaii's governor signed the state's civil unions bill into law on Tuesday, making the islands the seventh U.S. state to acknowledge gay and lesbian relationships in law.

"E Komo Mai: It means all are welcome," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser. "This signing today of this measure says to all of the world that they are welcome. That everyone is a brother or sister here in paradise."

Hawaii's civil unions law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

The gay rights triumph was quite a turnaround from last July, when the previous governor, Linda Lingle, vetoed a civil unions bill.

The law will allow gay, lesbian and heterosexual couples to enter into a civil union, with all the same rights and responsibilities as a traditional marriage.

Hawaiians have been fighting over same-sex marriage since 1993, when the state's Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage should be legal.

The court also ruled, however, that the decision would not go into effect until voters had their say. They did -- with a 1998 law that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.