Hawaii: House committee approves Civil Union Bill

From The Star Advertiser: “The state House Judiciary Committee voted last night to approve a civil-unions bill with amendments to ensure that the relationships are recognized in the tax code and are under the jurisdiction of family court.”

This version of the civil unions bill will now go to the full House for a vote, possibly by next week. It would then need to go back to the Senate to approve added language that will “clarify that since civil unions will not be recognized under federal law, certain provisions of the Internal Revenue Code that apply to husbands and wives in Hawaii apply with the same force and effect to partners in civil unions. Family Court will also have jurisdiction in matters of annulment, divorce and separation in civil unions, like the court does over marriages.”

With what appears to be strong support in both chambers and a new Democratic governor who has stated he will sign the bill, things look optimistic for the bill’s passage into law.

“State Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto urged lawmakers to pass civil unions, arguing that granting equal rights would help ease discrimination and harassment of gay, lesbian and bisexual students.”

“Rampant anti-gay rhetoric emanating from this debate is subjecting students to a heightened level of harassment,” she said.

Supporters urged lawmakers to recognize equal rights for all of Hawaii’s citizens.