HONOLULU — The Hawaii Legislature approved a bill on Wednesday allowing civil unions for same-sex couples, sending the measure to the state's Democratic governor, who has said he will sign it into law.
Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office said he intends to sign the bill within 10 days, and civil unions would begin Jan. 1.
The Senate's 18-5 vote came after years of thousands-strong rallies, election battles and passionate public testimony on an issue that has divided the Rainbow State for nearly two decades. The measure grants gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits the state provides to married couples.