Civil unions were approved by the Hawaii Legislature in February 2011 and signed into law by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Feb. 23 of that year. The law, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2012, grants same-sex couples the same rights as married couples.
In 1998, Hawaii voters approved a constitutional amendment giving legislators the authority to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. Civil unions are a legal partnership, open to both same-sex and heterosexual couples, and no religious institution or leader is required to perform or recognize them. But civil unions, domestic partnerships and same-sex marriages performed in other states would be recognized as civil unions in Hawaii.