New Hampshire Legalizes Gay Marriage, 6th State

New Hampshire has become the 6th state where gays can marry and the 2nd to make this change through the legislative process.

Traditionally conservative New Hampshire today became the sixth state in the nation — and the fifth state in New England — where same-sex couples will be allowed to marry.

“Today we’re standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear they will receive the same rights, responsibilities, and respect under New Hampshire law,” Governor John Lynch said before signing the legislation in a State House ceremony at about 5:20 p.m. Lynch said it was a New Hampshire tradition “to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections, and that tradition continues today.” The room, filled by scores of the bill’s supporters, resounded with applause as he signed.

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Gay marriage is now legal in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts — all of the new England states, except for Rhode Island. Gay marriage is also legal in Iowa.

Technically, the bill doesn’t take effect until January 1st.  As Tom Fahey reports for the Union Leader, the process was a bit more complicated than Lynch’s signing statement would indicate.

HB 73, compromise legislation demanded by the governor, was passed by a vote of 14-10 in the Senate and 198-176 in the House today. HB 73 (text), was an add-on to the gay marriage bill itself, HB 436 (text), and to HB 310 (text), which made technical changes to the main bill. HB 73 clarifies the rights of religious organizations and their employees to refuse to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies or celebrations. It states that religious groups have exclusive control over doctrine, teaching and beliefs on who can marry within their faiths.

The House refused to go along with the Lynch language protecting religion two weeks ago, failing to pass the measure by a single vote.  Some who voted against it at the time said the House was being asked to agree to changes without being given enough time to examine them.

House opponents aired the same complaints today, but the tide had shifted. “The House has always taken the time to consider the unintended consequences of any bill,” said Rep. Betsey Patten, R-Moultonborough.

Supporters of the bill said the new language protects religious beliefs and individual rights. “Let’s vote this one last time. Church and state should be separate,” said Rep. Anthony DiFruscia, R-Windham, who helped craft the final compromise language. In the Senate, Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Deborah Reynolds, D-Plymouth, said the language in the amendment strikes a balance that provides “equal rights for all and the right to religious freedom.”

AP’s Norma Love gives more information on the compromise:

Lynch, a Democrat, had promised a veto if the law didn’t clearly spell out that churches and religious groups would not be forced to officiate at gay marriages or provide other services. Legislators made the changes.

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The revised bill added a sentence specifying that all religious organizations, associations or societies have exclusive control over their religious doctrines, policies, teachings and beliefs on marriage. It also clarified that church-related organizations that serve charitable or educational purposes are exempt from having to provide insurance and other benefits to same-sex spouses of employees.

Messier and likely more complicated than a dictate handed down from a court.  But much more likely to be accepted as legitimate because it was made by the people’s representatives.   This is interesting, too:

The law will establish civil and religious marriage licenses and allow each party to the marriage to be identified as bride, groom or spouse. Same-sex couples already in civil unions will automatically be assumed to have a “civil marriage.”

Regardless, the tide is clearly turning on this subject.  The New England states are more liberal than most, of course, but they’re modeling the change.  As it becomes clear that marriage isn’t collapsing as an institution among heterosexuals and society isn’t collapsing — not a single reported case of anyone being turned into a pillar of salt, for example — this will be normalized.   It may take twenty years for gays to be able to marry in Mississippi and Alabama but it’ll happen in due time.

Photo: Jim Cole/AP

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. G.A.Phillips says:

    Gay marriage, It’s gonna make the Muslims love us even more:)
    oh happy happy day.

  2. J.W. Hamner says:

    Isn’t it the 3rd state to do it through legislative means? Vermont and Maine being the other two?

  3. M1EK says:
  4. Furhead says:

    Gay marriage, It’s gonna make the Muslims love us even more:)
    oh happy happy day.

    So according to your logic, we should only pay heed to what the Muslims say when it’s about our domestic issues. Anything else, f**k ’em. Right?

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    This is the proper way to legalize gay marriage, not by judicial intervention.

    The snark comment of marriage and society not collapsing and no one being turned into a pillar of salt are premature. I doubt no salt pillars but the societal effect of this change cannot be measured overnight. It is a fundamental change in western civilization and could yet create problems. Most likely backlash from those opposed, further backlash from those for, and most importantly in the courts where discrimination lawsuits will grow exponentially.

  6. Herb says:

    The “legislative versus judicial” line of argument on the gay marriage issue I don’t get. I mean, I get it on an intellectual level — legislative consensus versus judicial fiat — but it still seems a little weak.

    Take the issue of smoking bans. I’m ardently opposed and the fact that the bans in my state passed via ballot, rather than decree from a judge, doesn’t make me like them even more. You won’t hear me saying things like, “Well, it passed the vote, so I guess I can support it now.”

    No. My objections aren’t about process. They’re about the validity of the position itself. Ask an ardent pro-lifer if they’d change their position on abortion if it was put to a vote. Many will say no.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Herb,

    Laws you don’t like are laws you don’t like. But, yes, I’d much rather have the democratic process ban smoking than, say, a dictate from the FDA commissioner.

    Similarly, while I support gay marriage, I recognize that the overwhelming number of my countrymen don’t. State-instituted marriage is, ultimately, nothing more than society’s conferring of legitimacy to the union. So, yes, having the people’s representatives decide something makes it easier to swallow than having a judge hand it down.

  8. UlyssesUnbound says:

    Gay marriage, It’s gonna make the Muslims love us even more:)
    oh happy happy day.

    A very important point. In most policy courses I’ve taken, it is recommended that fear of radical Muslim reprisal should be the number one factor in forming new legislation. Thank you for pointing out the folly of these silly New Englanders who, through their flippant legislative process, have brought us all closer to another terrorist strike.

    Mmmm…sometimes snarking feels good sometimes.

  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    So according to your logic, we should only pay heed to what the Muslims say when it’s about our domestic issues. Anything else, f**k ’em. Right?

    No according to their religion. And they hate us for the millionth time because their god tells them too.

    A very important point. In most policy courses I’ve taken, it is recommended that fear of radical Muslim reprisal should be the number one factor in forming new legislation. Thank you for pointing out the folly of these silly New Englanders who, through their flippant legislative process, have brought us all closer to another terrorist strike.

    ya that was some comic supernova that you just let me have poopkie, please stop.

  10. Tlaloc says:

    It’s okay we’ll make up the loss with muslims by selling them Israel. Oh and whitey.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    No according to their religion. And they hate us for the millionth time because their god tells them too.

    Umm, I hate to break it to you, but we don’t decide domestic policy in this country based on “their religion” and while it is true that a dedicated minority of Muslims have perverted their faith and practice the killing of innocent people, that is hardly representative of Islam as a whole or the God that most Muslims pray to…I mean really, if someone around here was directing such bigotry at Christianity, you’d be one of the first people bitching about it…

  12. Herb says:

    So, yes, having the people’s representatives decide something makes it easier to swallow than having a judge hand it down.

    Perhaps a little easier.

    But I still think it’s a bit weak. I mean, I’m supportive of gay marriage like you. I’m also willing to admit that I’ll accept it either way: from a courtroom or a ballot box. But that’s because I believe that recognizing gay marriages is the right thing to do. Period.

    I suspect many anti-gay marriage folks feel the same way, only on the opposite spectrum. It’s wrong…either way it’s implemented, it’s just wrong. Period.

    With that said, I do prefer the democratic option myself, but not because it’s a vote rather than a ruling. I prefer it because it means a lot of people are coming around to the pro gay marriage side -perhaps for many different reasons- so the gay people who want to get married won’t have to go to court in the first place…except of course, for the divorce.

  13. tom p says:

    No according to their religion. And they hate us for the millionth time because their god tells them too.

    GA, your ignorance knows no bounds. Their “God” is the same as the “Jewish” God which is the same as the “Christian” God… They just worship him differently.

    For once, please, apply your intelligence. (I know you have it, just USE it, please…)