Hawaii's legislature is poised to approve civil unions for both gay and straight couples on Tuesday, a legal arrangement that would have all the rights, privileges and obligations of traditional marriage.
If approved as expected, Hawaii would become the seventh state to confer essentially the same connubial rights to gay couples as straight ones—though civil unions do not use the term "marriage."
Earlier Monday, a voice vote in the Hawaii senate approved minor changes to the civil unions bill, clarifying tax filing language. The changes have already been approved by the state's house of representatives, and the senate passed an earlier version of the bill by a vote of 19 to 6.
Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, supports the legislation, virtually assuring it will become state law if it's successful in the senate on Tuesday.
Abercrombie's predecessor, Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, vetoed a 2009 earlier civil unions bill. Hawaii voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1998 allowing the legislature to ban gay marriage, which lawmakers subsequently did. Civil unions, however, are not restricted by the amendment.