On Wednesday, Hawaii state legislators approved civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, and Governor Neil Abercrombie vowed to sign it into law. It was approved with an 18-5 vote. The bill allows all couples to enter into a civil union — a legal status with all the rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities as traditional marriage. A similar bill was passed last year, but then vetoed by then-Governor Linda Lingle.
"I have always believed that civil unions respect our diversity, protect people's privacy, and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha," Abercrombie said in a statement. "For me this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii."
Hawaii joins six other states in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The news thrilled Hawaii's same-sex couples, and should help increase Hawaii's already-booming tourism market.
Related: Today Hawaii also appointed its first openly gay Supreme Court judge — Circuit Judge Sabrina McKenna. Double win!