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Hawaii House could vote on civil unions bill 'this week or early next week'

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Things are moving fast for the civil unions bill in Hawaii. The Senate already passed the legislation. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved it. Next stop, the House floor -- and that will happen soon:

The bill would allow same-sex and heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law. The changes — recommended by the state Attorney General's Office — mean that if approved by the House, the bill must go back before the state Senate, which passed the bill last month, before going to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature.

"It's still fast-tracked. I think the Senate now has the opportunity just to agree to these amendments that probably should have been considered when it was first passed," Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran (D, Kahului-Paia), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said after the 11-2 vote.

"I think they are reasonable amendments. I think the bill itself was legally sufficient, as the Attorney General said, but I think these clarifying amendments will be helpful," Keith-Agaran said.

The House could vote on the bill this week or early next week. Both the House and Senate must agree on the final language of the bill before it can go to Abercrombie.
So, pass the House in the next couple, back to the Senate, then on to the Governor. Same-sex couples in Hawaii will soon have some new rights and legal protections.

Equality Hawaii is leading the effort.

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