Hawaii has moved one step closer to becoming the seventh State to allow civil unions for same-sex couples.
On Feb. 16, lawmakers in Honolulu voted to approve the measure that would grant gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples many of the same rights of traditional unions without authorizing marriage itself. Five States and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.
The civil unions bill now heads to the desk of Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie who has pledged to sign the measure, according to The Associated Press. If it is signed into law, same-sex civil unions will become legal in Hawaii beginning on Jan. 1, 2012.
Although many residents were overjoyed by the recent vote — some were moved to tears — there are critics of the legislation, as well. Opponents of same-sex unions believe that the new law may erode the concept of the traditional family.
"I feel very grieved for all of us. Now we'll need God even more in our islands," Stephanie Kon of Honolulu told the news provider.
According to The New York Times, the moment may be approaching when President Barack Obama has to take an official stance on the same-sex marriage issue. Two new lawsuits out of Connecticut and New York are challenging the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in 1996 and denies gay couples the Federal benefits that are granted to straight couples.
The President's administration must file an official response to these lawsuits by March 11, the news provider reported.