HONOLULU — Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed same-sex civil unions into law Wednesday, calling it "a triumph for everyone" that gay and lesbian couples will have the same state rights as married partners.
Civil unions in the Rainbow State would start Jan. 1, 2012, making Hawaii the seventh state to permit civil unions or similar legal recognitions for gay couples. Five other states and the Washington capital district allow same-sex marriage.
"This bill represents equal rights for everyone in Hawaii, everyone who comes here. This is to me the essence of the aloha spirit," Abercrombie said at a signing ceremony. "With its signing, I want to say 'welcome' to the world, come to paradise."