Hawaii's Senate passed a bill that legalizes same-sex civil unions in the state. The bill, which passed the state House earlier this week, now goes to Governor Neil Abercrombie.
The bill "extends the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union," according to its text.
"I have always believed that civil unions respect our diversity, protect people's privacy and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha," Abercrombie said in a statement. Abercrombie has publicly announced that he plans to sign the legislature into law. Once signed, the bill is set to take effect January 1, 2012.
Hawaii will join New Jersey and Illinois as states that have legalized civil unions for same-sex couples. The recently enacted law in Illinois takes effect June 1, 2011.
In addition, five states have legalized same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia. Six states legally recognize same-sex domestic partnerships: California, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin.