- Associated Press - Sunday, January 1, 2012

HONOLULU — Four Hawaii same-sex couples entered into civil unions early Sunday as a new state law went into effect.

The Star Advertiser reports that Monica Montgomery and Donna Gedge joined three other same-sex couples — Saralyn Batt and Isajah Morales, Gary Bradley and Paul Perry, and Bonnie Limatoc-DePonte and Lydia Pontin — as the first in Hawaii to be joined in civil unions.

The new law allows same-sex and opposite-sex couples to enter into a civil union with the same state rights and responsibilities as traditional marriages.

The online process for applying for the unions was activated at midnight, allowing couples to submit applications, pay fees and receive civil union certificates online.

It makes Hawaii the seventh state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to enter civil unions.

The joint ceremony, arranged by the CU in Hawaii 2012 Committee, a coalition of representatives from more than a half-dozen lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups, was held at a private home in Aina Haina, the Star Advertiser said.

Limatoc-DuPonte, 57, said the evening was the culmination of a lifetime of hope.

“I’ve waited all my life to be able to get married,” she said. “I just knew that one day it was going to happen. Accepting people for what they are is a way of life in Hawaii. It’s who we are, so I knew this would be possible one day. I’m ecstatic that other couples will see us and know that they can have the same thing — and they won’t have to wait as long.”

The ceremony was jointly officiated by Rev. Kyle Lovett, Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong and Rev. Pam Vessels.

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