Should New Hampshire repeal gay marriage?
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.
Approximately 2,300 couples have been been married in New Hampshire under the current law.
Sen. David Pierce (D-Etna) is 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). The bill awaits Gov. Hassan's signature. SB 394's primary sponsor is Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua).
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.