"Pro-family advocates were taken by surprise when the Hawaii House of Representatives unexpectedly revived and passed legislation that would establish same-sex civil unions and make them equivalent to marriage, nearly three months after everyone thought the issue was a dead letter.
The Senate bill taken up by the House (HB 444) "extends the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union."
Back in February, the House decided to take the legislation off its agenda for the rest of the legislative year in a voice vote that would have required two-thirds of the Democratic-controlled chamber to revive the issue.
However on Thursday, the very last day of the state’s legislative session, Rep. Blake Oshiro moved to revive the Senate bill. Instead of following the rules established for taking up the shelved bill, Speaker Calvin Say had the House take four votes to suspend those rules and pass the bill with just a majority.
The bill passed 31 votes in favor to 20 against, and will now proceed to the desk of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle. The governor has 45 days to make a decision on whether to sign or veto the civil unions bill, and has not indicated which way she will decide."
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