Same-sex civil unions could become law in Hawaii next year, following the election of pro-gay rights Democrat Neil Abercrombie as governor and the rejection of many church-backed candidates, reports The Washington Post.
Democratic majorities were retained in the state house and senate, which approved a civil unions bill this year only to see it vetoed by Gov. Linda Lingle. Gov.-elect Abercrombie has said he will sign a similar bill if passed by the legislature.
Hawaii, which has been a battleground in the gay rights movement for years, would become the sixth state to grant essentially the same rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself.
"I'm hopeful, but I would never want to call any shots until the final vote is taken," said house majority leader Blake Oshiro, who is gay. "While I remain optimistic, there's still a lot of work to be done."