From sea to shining sea

Today, new Hawaiʻi governor Neil Abercrombie signed civil unions into law. And these are strong civil unions, of the marriage-in-all-but-name variety. (And they're available to couples regardless of gender, so opposite-sex couples can get civil-unioned should they so desire.)

It's been a long hard road since the 1990s, when Hawaiʻi became the first state to achieve marriage equality but then had it taken away. And it's still not back, but this is a big step.

Unfortunately, the law doesn't go into effect until January of 2012, so couples who want a civil union will have to wait ten months. I'm not clear on why so long a delay. But better late than never.

Meanwhile, on the same day but on the shore of a different ocean, the Maryland state Senate approved marriage equality. It now goes to the state House of Delegates. Emphasis has been on the Senate until now because the House is generally regarded as more liberal; unfortunately, it sounds like passage is not yet certain in the House. But here's hoping. If that works out, the next stop is the governor, who has promised to sign it.

All this the day after Obama and the DOJ took a step back from defending DOMA. A banner week for marriage equality so far; let's hope the news continues good.

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