Hawaii eyes gay ceremonies after civil unions pass

HONOLULU (AP) — Gay partners seeking to pledge their love on Hawaii’s sandy beaches soon will have their relationships recognized by law in the Rainbow State.

Hawaii lawmakers gave final approval to civil unions Wednesday and sent the legislation to Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who plans to sign it into law.

Civil unions would begin Jan. 1, 2012, making the state the seventh to grant virtually the same rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself. Five states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage.

The unions will come with a certificate that’s valid both in Hawaii and some other states, depending on their local laws.

Hawaii also will allow gay couples to get civil unions even if they don’t come from states with compatible laws.

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Online:

SB232: http://capitol.hawaii.gov/

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