Senate schedules civil unions vote
The state Senate has scheduled a vote tomorrow on a bill that would allow same-sex and heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions.
The bill would give couples in civil unions the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.
The Senate floor session is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m.
The bill stalled in the Senate after it was amended on the second-to-last day of the session last year. It is set for a final vote tomorrow unless there is another attempt at an amendment.
Some senators want to amend the bill to change the effective date, which is Jan. 1, 2010. While legal, some fear the retroactive date would be a flaw that could concern the state House or be used as a pretext for a veto by Gov. Linda Lingle.
If the bill is approved by the Senate, it would move back to the state House, where lawmakers passed a civil-unions bill last session that applied only to same-sex couples.
State House leaders have said they would see whether the Senate gets a two-thirds majority — 17 of 25 senators — to override a veto before deciding how to proceed.