Gay Marriage - Issue Summary

Should New Hampshire repeal gay marriage?

gay marriage repeal

Issue Facts

By: Standing Up for New Hampshire Families and Karen Testerman
This issue has been updated by LFDA editors.

New Hampshire is one of 17 states with a law sanctioning same-sex marriage. HB 436, which states that any New Hampshire citizen “may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender,” was signed into law in June of 2009 and took effect the following January.

The law replaced New Hampshire’s 2007 civil union law.  Under the civil union law same-sex couples that entered a civil union were granted “the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations as married couples” under state law.  Effective January 1, 2011, all civil unions in the state became marriages unless otherwise dissolved, annulled or previously converted to marriage.

Proponents of same-sex marriage contend that “civil unions” don’t go far enough. Civil-union laws, they argue, are based on the same “separate but equal” rationale that was once used to justify racial segregation. Only by granting same-sex unions the same status as traditional husband-and-wife unions can all citizens of New Hampshire enjoy the same rights and privileges, regardless of sexual orientation.  

Opponents of same-sex marriage (many citing religious beliefs) contend that marriage can only be a union between one man and one woman. Two people in a same-sex partnership may be entitled to the same legal rights as a husband and wife, but their relationship is not, by definition, a marriage. Further, opponents contend that extending the right of marriage to same-sex couples could threaten the rights of churches and other organizations that prohibit same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

2014 Legislation

Sen. David Pierce (D-Etna) was the primary sponsor of CACR 17, a constitutional amendment that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The measure passed the Senate (23-0) but failed in the House (Refer to Interim Study by 234-94 vote). A constitutional amendment needs full passage before it reaches the voters.

SB 394, a bill requiring New Hampshire to recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state, and making various legal terms gender-neutral, passed the Senate (24-0) and the House (217-119). It was signed into law by Gov. Hassan on July 10, 2014. SB 394's primary sponsor was Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua).

Previous Legislation

Following the 2010 Republican sweep of the state Legislature, two bills were introduced related to the repeal of same-sex marriage rights: HB 437 and HB 443. Both bills were rejected by the House in 2012. Then-Gov. Lynch vowed to veto any bill that repeals this law, and fellow Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, sworn into office in 2013, is likely to do the same.

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Issue Pro

Pro Issue Opinion by Karen Testerman, for repeal:


Genuine marriage maintains policies that are best for the continuation of a civil and productive society:

  • It is scientific fact that procreation can only occur with the union of a man and a woman. The children that result are the next generation that will secure the continuation of a society. The proven best environment for children is when raised by their biological mother and father. Anything less has a high potential to be a burden on society. Counterfeit marriages, while advertised as based on love, are focused on the egos and perceived artificial rights of the individuals. There is no way for a counterfeit marriage to produce a child without bringing in another individual and thereby add confusion and burdens on society.

Every child has a mother and a father and deserves to live and be raised by them:

  • The role of the mother is no more important than the role of the father. Biologically there are physiological happenings when that child relates in the presence of each parent that are important to the healthy development of the child. When either role is missing the child will seek to fulfill that need. Most of our government support programs are in existence to help fix the fallout that occurs from fractured families.

Counterfeit marriages take away individual rights:

  • Creating an unnatural class and assigning rights to it denies the rights of others. We infringe on the rights of conscience of individuals that affect their income and remove free speech and association. In Massachusetts and California, parents cannot exercise their freedom to educate their children in their ideology. In Connecticut. a church cannot exercise their freedom to rent to whom they choose. In Arizona, a photographer is not allowed to exercise her freedom to provide her services to whom she chooses.

A legislature cannot grant rights:

  • America is different from any other country in the world, except Israel, because as acknowledged in our Declaration of Independence our rights come from our Creator. Our rights are not appropriated and distributed by a monarch, a dictator or and elite class. Our Creator made us male and female, and we are to be fruitful and multiply.

Government must protect the next generation:

  • When our people lack self governance, a vacuum is created and government must step in. Government needs people entering into a genuine marriage to assure that the mother AND more importantly, the father acknowledges and accepts the responsibility for their children to insure that the male who impregnates a woman is responsible for the woman and is also responsible for the well being of their children.

Marriage is the economic engine of our society:

  • When a married mother and father raise the children they produce, the children are healthier and less likely to be involved with law enforcement or become an unwed mother. These factors alone put less of a financial burden on society. 70% of the boys in juvenile justice have no father in the home. When a person graduates from high school, gets a full time job and gets married before they have children, they are 70% less likely to be in poverty.

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Issue Con

Con Issue Opinion by Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, against repeal:


Repeal harms children and families:

  • Same-sex marriage benefits children immensely.  Children being raised by loving, committed same-sex parents deserve the same benefits as children of married heterosexual parents.  By keeping the freedom to marry law intact, the state of New Hampshire ensures that all children will be protected and enjoy all the same rights as children of heterosexual couples.  These rights include, identical naming conventions, inheritance, the right to be covered by each parents’ health insurance and familial benefits such as being accepted by the community at large, emotional support and feeling safe and secure within a stable family structure.  A repeal of this law would leave children unprotected.  They are the most vulnerable and needy in our society and should feel loved and welcomed in the community.

We don't take away rights:

  • Marriage is a fundamental human right.  By repealing the freedom to marry, the government would be denying gay and lesbian couples the legal benefits of marriage (i.e. rights in probate and health-care matters).  This is unjust discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  The government must provide all couples equal protection under the law.

  • Taking away the freedom to marry is against long held New Hampshire values such as freedom and liberty.  A repeal would take away rights from some of our citizens and not others.  This is unethical. Civil unions separate and classify our gay and lesbian residents in a separate, unequal category.

  • There was not one heterosexual marriage or any citizens harmed by this law.  It has only benefited residents and allowed loving, committed same-sex couples to be married just like heterosexual couples.  These citizens are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, neighbors, friends, family members, co-workers and so on.  Live Free of Die is more than a slogan; it is a way of life in New Hampshire.  A repeal of the freedom to marry would take away citizens' rights and is the ultimate government intrusion in our lives.

Bad for Business:

  • We know the graying of New Hampshire is an issue. We are one of the oldest states in the country and must do a better job of keeping young people here.  The freedom to marry is extremely popular with the younger generation and a majority of people under 30 recognize and accept same-sex marriage.  Businesses in other states have acknowledged the competitive advantage to reside in a state with marriage equality to attract a talented young vibrant workforce.  A repeal would harm businesses and burden them with new rules and regulations, lawsuits and valuable resources being spent on redrafting company policies.  It would damage the reputation of New Hampshire to be the first state to repeal a law that granted equal rights to all citizens. It would have a negative impact on the tourism trade, would deter new settlers to the state, and contradict New Hampshire’s long held “Live Free or Die” heritage promoting individual freedom and liberty.

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Gay Marriage Repeal Member Posts
Take Action

If you are interested in gay marriage in NH and want to take action here are some choices:

  • If you are new to contacting your government, please visit our page on How to Take Action.

  • Contact one of the organizations listed in Learn More. These groups represent the pro or con positions of issues.

  • Contact a government official as follows:

1. Contact members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives or the New Hampshire Senate

2. Give your opinion to Governor Maggie Hassan

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Learn More/Take Action

How do you feel about gay marriage?  Whatever your thoughts are, we urge you to make your voice heard. See the "Learn More/Take Action" section on this page for more information.

Issue Status

In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges declared that state laws banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. 


June 27, 2014
Union Leader: NH's gay community applauds court decision
June 27, 2014
Concord Monitor: SCOTUS ruling was once unimaginable for gay and lesbian community
July 10, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: Hassan signs marriage law
April 2, 2014
Union Leader: Opposition grows to sexual orientation constitutional amendment

June 26, 2013
Associated Press: NH widow calls anti-DOMA ruling a 'huge victory'
June 4, 2013
Ex-Congressman Bass to GOP: Time to embrace same-sex marriage
April 9, 2013
Seacoast Online: Hassan promotes inclusiveness at UNH gay pride breakfast 
February 28, 2013
NHPR: NH Signs on to briefs defending same-sex marriage
May 10, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: In NH, celebration and scorn for Obama's support of same-sex marriage
March 29, 2012
Seacoast Online: Starbucks' support for gay marriage divides consumers
March 25, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Same-sex couples encouraged by vote
Eagle-Tribune: Lawmakers: Constituents, conscience shaped same-sex marriage votes
March 23, 2012
Union Leader: Gay marriage fight isn't over, legislators say
Concord Monitor: Gay couples say same-sex marriage battle isn't over
March 22, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: House kills effort to repeal same-sex marriage, law to stay on the books
March 20, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Republican lawmakers make case against same-sex marriage repeal
Concord Monitor: Gay marriage gets backup
Seacoast Online: Gay-marriage backers lobby before House vote
NHPR: Defeat of gay-marriage repeal urged
March 19, 2012
NHPR: Opponents call for defeat of gay marriage repeal
March 15, 2012

Union Leader: Bill to allow refusal of service for gay weddings squashed
Union Leader: John DiStaso's Granite Status: Same-sex marriage agenda puts candidates on guard
March 14, 2012
Concord Monitor: Gay marriage repeal seeks referendum