Hawaii Senate Passes Civil Union Bill (HB 444): "The Senate voted 18 to 7 to pass a civil-unions bill. The bill now moves to the House for consideration with a veto-proof majority.
The bill would give same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same state rights as marriage.
Locking down a two-thirds' vote - 17 of 25 senators - had become crucial because state House leaders have said a veto-proof majority would be among the factors they will consider if the bill moves back to the House.
The House passed a civil-unions bill last year that only applies to same-sex couples. The House came one vote short of a two-thirds' majority - with one Democrat absent - but leaders do not want to go through the exercise again in an election year unless there is a realistic chance the bill will become law."