(HONOLULU) -- Hawaii's Senate passed a measure Wednesday to make civil unions legal in the state.
The Senate voted 18-5 in favor of the bill, which will now go to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's desk. The governor is expected to sign the bill into action within 10 legislative days.
Once signed, civil unions will become legal in Hawaii starting Jan. 1, 2012.
After the bill was passed, Abercrombie issued a statement, saying, "I appreciate all the time and effort invested by those who shared their thoughts and concerns regarding civil unions in Hawaii. This has been an emotional process for everyone involved, but that process is now ended. Everyone has been heard; all points of view respected."
"For me, this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii," the governor added.
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