New Hampshire Gov. signs same-sex marriage bill
 

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posted Friday, June 5, 2009 - Volume 37 Issue 23

New Hampshire Gov. signs same-sex marriage bill
by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

The New Hampshire State House and Senate passed legislation to recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples on June 3. The Senate voted 14-10 earlier in the day in favor of the bill. The house followed later in the afternoon, voting 198-176. Grouped with two previous pieces of legislation aimed at advancing the freedom for Gay and Lesbian couples to marry, the passing of Wednesday's bill was the last major procedural before Gov. John Lynch (D-NH) signed all three bills into law, making the "Live Free or Die" state the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

"The legislature has upheld the New Hampshire values of individual liberty, freedom and fairness," said Executive Director of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition Mo Baxley. "We applaud the legislature for continuing to strongly safeguard religious freedom while making sure that all loving, committed couples have the freedom to marry."

For Gay-rights supporters, New Hampshire signals further momentum out of New England to expand same-sex marriage nationwide. Momentum, they say, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community needs considering last week's California Supreme Court ruling to uphold Proposition 8.

"No religious institution will have to recognize any marriage under this law, as the language proposed by Gov. Lynch and agreed to by the legislature made abundantly clear," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

Last month, almost identical legislation came across Gov. Lynch's desk. After carefully reviewing the bill, Lynch said he would not sign it into law until some of it was reworded. He said he wanted to make sure no religious institution was forced to perform same-sex marriages. The legislation was worded differently and Lynch signed the bill making it state law.

At this time, six states recognize same-sex marriage under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Six sates, California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, Washington and Washington D.C. provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage; through either civil unions or domestic partnership. Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state.



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