Civil Unions Bill: New, Improved, Not Perfect

The Hawaii House of Representatives will vote Friday on a civil unions bill that, based on a head count, has the votes to pass out of the House and go back to the Hawaii Senate for consideration.

If the Senate likes what it sees — several key senators have indicated that they will accept the House's amended version of Senate Bill 232 — civil unions legislation will be sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie this month.

As introduced, SB 232 was identical to House Bill 444, the bill vetoed by Gov. Linda Lingle last July. Only the implementation date was changed.

But on Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee amended the measure based on several recommendations from the Hawaii Attorney General's Office.

In written testimony, Attorney General David Louie and Deputy Attorney General Heide Rian wrote that the unamended bill "would be legally viable and defensible" but that it contained "some omissions and ambiguities that could make implementation difficult."

To improve the bill's chances, Louie and Rian proposed five changes, four of which were adopted by House Judiciary.

The amended SB 232 is now a stronger, more equitable bill. But it still falls short in key areas, according to the AG's office and a major civil unions advocacy group.

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