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NH same-sex couples marry just after midnight
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NH same-sex couples marry just after midnight

by Shaun Knittel- SGN Staff Writer

New Hampshire has become the 5th U.S. state to allow same-sex marriage. As of midnight, New Year's Eve, a bill passed in June by the state's government that allowed marriage equality for same-sex couples became active law.

About 15 Gay couples waited on the statehouse steps in Concord for the midnight marrying moment, according to Associated Press. A reported 150 people gathered in the state capitol to witness the marriages by a justice of the peace as the new year dawned. In addition to the Concord nuptials, many other same-sex couples planned private ceremonies around the state.

New Hampshire passed its law in June amid an emotional national debate. The law grants no new rights to Gays, but eliminates the separate status for civil unions.

New Hampshire couples already in civil unions have three options to convert their status to marriages. They can have marriage ceremonies, file marriage paperwork with their town clerks to convert their status during 2010 or wait until the unions automatically convert in 2011.

New Hampshire joins Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, and Massachusetts in the group of states that allow same-sex marriage despite determined opposition from religious leaders. Washington DC's move to legalize same-sex marriage awaits Congressional approval.

Despite another state joining the group, the Gay marriage issue is far from over. Last month, New York officials voted down a marriage equality bill, as did California in 2008. Maine, one of the first states to allow Gay marriage, repealed its marriage equality law in November. Additionally, a same-sex marriage bill is stalled in New Jersey.

President Barack Obama has said he is against Gay marriage, though he does support civil unions or domestic partnerships, as well as other causes of the LGBT community.

Mo Baxley, executive director of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, says that despite some of the setbacks the community experienced in 2009, the country is heading in the right direction.

"People focus on the setbacks, but last year there was one state and now there are five states," he said.

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