New Year’s Day brought a very happy new year to same-sex couples in Hawaii and Delaware, as these two states became part of a now-five state bloc that allows same-sex civil unions. They join Illinois, Rhode Island and New Jersey in recognizing civil unions, which provides limited legal protection to same-sex partners but are not marriages according to law.
In Hawaii, the civil unions are recognized provided the ceremony is performed by someone licensed by the Department of Health. Although the civil union law went into effect on Jan 1 in Delaware, civil union ceremonies didn’t officially begin until Jan 3, the next business day. The Washington Blade reported that Kenneth Boulden, Clerk of the Peace for New Castle County, couldn’t wait 48 hours and took the unusual step of opening his office on New Year’s Day for couples that wished to obtain a civil union on the day the law went into effect. CNN, however, relayed that these bills didn’t make the new year happy for everyone. “We need you to mount a campaign to flood the governor’s office with requests to veto the bill,” Larry Silva, Catholic bishop of Honolulu, wrote on the Diocese of Honolulu’s website at the time. Fortunately, his flock failed to heed his desperate request.
In New Jersey, lawmakers have introduced legislation to legalize same-sex marriage and cited the state’s civil union protections as separate and unequal. No word yet on whether a similar situation could evolve in Hawaii or Delaware. For now, couples are simply celebrating their long-sought victory.
“We’ve been waiting a long time and now the night is finally here, so it’s really exciting,” Honolulu resident Monica Montgomery, who celebrated 33 years with partner Donna Gedge, told HawaiiNewsNow.