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Civil unions bill killed in Hawaii Senate
Civil unions bill killed in Hawaii Senate
The Family Equality Coalition, a Hawaii-based organization dedicated to securing equal marriage rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people and their families, and the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization with more than 2,500 supporters in Hawaii, released a statement today regarding the state Senate's rejection of legislation that would have allowed civil unions for Lesbian and Gay couples statewide. The bill failed on the vote to pull the bill from committee by a margin of 18 to six.

"Today's vote is a great disappointment for loving, committed Hawaiian Lesbian and Gay couples," said Family Equality Coaltion Co-Chair Alan Spector. "We share the sadness of all who hoped this vote would go differently and that the state would take a step toward equality for all Hawaiians."

"Today's vote helps no one in the state of Hawaii. It protects no one's marriage. It grants dignity to no couple's relationship. It does nothing to ensure that all families receive the equal rights and responsibilities they deserve. But no one is giving up," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "The Human Rights Campaign is proud to have partnered with the Family Equality Coalition on behalf of this critical legislation. It has been a long, hard struggle for couples and families in Hawaii who simply want equal rights, and this effort continues, as it does across the nation."

The legislation, which previously passed the House of Representatives by a 33-17 vote, would have permitted Gay and Lesbian couples to enter into civil unions and receive the rights, benefits, and responsibilities under Hawaii law that are granted to spouses. Couples who enter into a civil union would not receive any rights, benefits, or responsibilities under federal law.

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

In addition to Hawaii, nine 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 the rights provided to married couples. New York recognizes marriages by Gay and Lesbian couples validly entered into outside of New York.

Lesbian and Gay 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.

Courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign.

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