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“The people of Hawaii made it clear that they’re against civil unions and same-sex marriage, and the politicians have basically said, ‘To hell with you,’” Mr. Gabbard, a Democrat, said.

The signing coincided the order Wednesday of Hawaii-born President Obama for his administration to stop defending a federal law banning recognition of gay marriage, and a vote in the Maryland Senate to legalize gay marriage. Illinois legalized civil unions last month.

“It’s a fantastic day,” said Tony Wagner of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, who attended the signing. “It’s been a good couple of months thus far since the elections. We’re going to keep fighting for equality day in and day out.”