Hawaii Legalizes Same-Sex Civil Unions

Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill legalizing same-sex civil unions, making the state the seventh in the U.S. to enable gay couples to be joined in a legally-recognized union, if not actually married.  The debate over civil unions has been a very contentious issues in Hawaii.  Last year, Republican Governor vetoed the measure.  Outraged ensued, including some talk of boycotts on state tourism from gay rights groups.  Despite the State’s first failed attempt at passing the legislation, on February 16, 2011, the Senate voted to pass the bill by 18-5.  The legislation will take effect January 1, 2012.  www.cbsnews.com.

The federal government of the United States does not recognize same-sex marriages and is prohibited from doing so by the Defense of Marriage Act.  Same-sex marriages are currently granted by five of the 50 states and one federal district.  In Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., marriages for same-sex couples are legal and currently performed.  In New York, Rhode Island, and Maryland, same-sex marriages are recognized, but not performed.  Five states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California recognizes same-sex marriages performed during six months in 2008 after its Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to marry and before the passage of Proposition 8, which overturned the court’s decision.  Hawaii will join New Jersey in allowing civil unions.

The attorneys at Leeds Morelli & Brown, P.C., dedicate a large amount of their practice to discrimination claims.  For any questions, contact an attorney at the Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C. law firm for a free consultation at 1-800-585-4658. Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C.’s website is located at www.lmblaw.com.