Hawaii House passes civil unions bill

Hawaii’s House of Representatives passed a civil unions bill by a 33-17 vote on Feb. 12. The bill now moves to the state Senate.

“Human Rights Campaign congratulates Hawaii’s House of Representatives for recognizing that all couples and all families deserve basic rights and protections,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “This legislation is simply about moving closer to equality for all residents of Hawaii.”

The bill passed by the House would permit gay and lesbian couples to enter into civil unions and receive the benefits, protections, and responsibilities under Hawaii law that are granted to spouses. If the legislation passes the Senate and is enacted into law, couples who enter into a civil union will not receive any rights or benefits under federal law.

Hawaii does not permit gay or lesbian couples to marry. Hawaii law currently permits couples prohibited from marrying under Hawaii law to enter into reciprocal beneficiary relationships and receive limited rights and benefits, not all rights provided to married couples under state law.

In addition to Hawaii, 10 states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples. Massachusetts and Connecticut recognize marriage for gay and lesbian couples under state law. Five other states — California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont — plus Washington, D.C., provide gay and lesbian couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Maine and Washington provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits, not all rights provided to married couples. New York recognizes marriages by gay and lesbian couples validly entered into outside of New York.

Gay and lesbian couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. To learn more about state by state legislation visit: www.hrc.org/state_laws.

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