Hawaii allows civil unions (w/ related video)
On Wednesday, Hawaii became the seventh state in the nation to recognize civil unions. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law a bill that extends the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union.
"For me, this bill represents equal rights, equal rights for everyone who comes here. This is, to me, the essence of the aloha spirit," Abercrombie said at the bill's signing ceremony. "Here in Hawaii, we do not let our diversity divide us. It indeed defines us, and this bill defines us."
Abercrombie also said the process of approving the law had been emotional, but "that process is now over. Everyone has been heard. All points of view have been respected."
On Jan. 31, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation making it the sixth state to approve civil unions. The other five states are California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia. Hawaii's new law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
Watch the video of Abercrombie signing Hawaii's civil union bill below: