Hawaii lawmakers OK civil unions

April 30, 2010 at 1:26 PM

HONOLULU, April 30 (UPI) -- Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle has not said whether she will sign a bill that gives same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter civil unions.

The Hawaii House gave the measure, which gives same-sex and heterosexual couples the same rights as married couples, final approval Thursday, the last day of the legislative session, on a 31-20 vote.

The vote came as lawmakers wrestled with the state budget deficit, The Honolulu Advertiser reported.

Lingle, a Republican, has until July 6 to decide whether to sign the measure, which fell short of the two-thirds majority necessary to override a possible veto.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona said he would urge the governor to reject the measure.

"If the Legislature wanted to establish the equivalent of same-sex marriage, they should have put it on the ballot for the people to decide," Aiona said.

Hawaii's Supreme Court ruled in 1993 same-sex couples should be allowed to marry but voters adopted a constitutional amendment in 1998 that allowed the Legislature to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

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