Same sex marriage (SSM) and
civil unions in New Hampshire
House committee hearings
on civil union bill.
2006-NOV: The New Hampshire legislature & executive:
The Democratic Party won control of both the House of Representatives and the
Senate at the mid-term elections for the first time in 130 years.
Governor John Lynch (D) has expressed firm opposition to same-sex marriage (SSM)
in the state. His views on same-sex civil unions were unclear.
Previous legislation in New Hampshire bans same-sex marriage.
Republicans initiated a bill to begin the process of amending the state
constitution to ban SSM and place it beyond the power of the courts to
authorize. It was defeated in the legislature.
As of 2009-MAR, same-sex couples can be "civil unionized" in New Jersey
and Vermont. California
has a domestic partnership law, and briefly allowed same-sex marriage during
2009 before Proposition 8 outlawed it. Massachusetts and
Connecticut, are the
only states that allow same-sex couples. However, same-sex couples cannot
receive the over 1,050 federal benefits given to opposite-sex married couples. Canadian couples in all ten
provinces and three territories can marry as well.
There seems to be momentum building in favor of same-sex marriage throughout
the New England states.
2006-DEC-26: Most New Hampshire residents favor civil unions:
Research 2000 conducted a telephone poll of 600 voters for the
Concord Monitor between 2006-DEC-18 and 20: 44% favored civil unions for
same-sex couples; 40%
were opposed; 16% were unsure.
On the topic of SSM, 55% were opposed; 35% were in favor; 10% were unsure.
Pollster Del Ali said that the results in New Hampshire were almost identical
to those polls conducted in Vermont during the late 1990s before that state
legalized civil unions. 1
Because of the small sample size, the results on
the civil union question are believed to be not statistically significant.
2007-MAR-05: House committee hearing on SSM & civil unions:
The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee held a seven hour session
to discuss both civil unions and marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples
residing in the state. Three proposed bills were discussed that would either:
|Allow same-sex couples to marry, as in Massachusetts. This bill was
proposed by Rep. Maureen Baxley (D), the executive director of New
Hampshire Freedom to Marry.|
|Allow them to enter into civil unions, as in Vermont. This bill was
proposed by Rep. Jim Splaine (D). He believed that the legislature would be
unwilling to approve SSM at this time. He said: "I believe the process of lawmaking needs
compromise. If you do not believe that we can do marriage in 2007, then I
urge you to do the next best thing."|
|Have the state recognize legal SSM and civil unions that are entered into in
other states, as Rhode Island has done. A bill to implement this was proposed by Rep. Marlene DeChane (D). It would repeal a 2004 law that prevents New Hampshire from
recognizing marriages performed elsewhere. Rep. Ed Butler (D) said that the
current law "... has been causing divorce at the border. This bill will
reverse that inequality."|
Some comments at the committee meeting:
|Sen. Bob Clegg, (R) proposed a form of "contractual cohabitation." This
would give any two adults -- same-sex or opposite-sex -- who enter into an
agreement before a justice of the peace all of the benefits of marriage.|
|Kevin Jordan, a resident of Nottingham, NH, testified:|
"To me, marriage in general has always been a religious union. I do
not support marriage between a woman and a woman, two women and a man,
and a man and a goat."
|Nancy Mari of Londonderry said that homosexuality is a trap. She
prophesized that allowing SSM would contribute to the end of humanity. She
said: "If we continue in this way, then God's judgment is coming."|
|Senator Jacalyn Cilley (D) said:|
"It is, to my mind, unconscionable that we force gay and lesbian
couples to live in non-legal limbo, giving them no legal rights toward
each other. Our great state, beyond perhaps any other, is grounded in
the notion of individual liberty for each of its citizens. It is time
that these same individual liberties are extended to our gay and lesbian
|Rep. Mo Baxley (D) said: "Doesn't that word [marriage] bring with it
dignity?" He suggested that any form of civil union would be a form of
|Raymond Buckley, a former Democratic lawmaker suggested that the state
introduce civil unions as a first step. He said: "I don't agree with those
who say we should kill the good while waiting for the perfect."|
|Pamela Colantuono of Manchester opposes SSM. She said: "It's the
watering down of our culture. Massachusetts has run amok. I do not want to
see New Hampshire in the same way." Actually, the experience in
Massachusetts has indicated that SSM may benefit the institution of marriage.
That state was the first one to legalize SSM and has the lowest divorce rate
in the nation. More details.|
|Robert Theberge, a co-sponsor of Marlene DeChane's bill said: "A lot of
people will be hiding behind their religious beliefs. [But the bill] is the
Christian thing to do." 2,3|
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Poll: Civil unions OK, gay marriage not," Associated Press,
- Sarah Liebowitz, "Same-sex unions spur debate. Both sides invoke God in
arguments," Concord Monitor Online, 2007-MAR-06, at:
- "Marathon Session Hears Gay Marriage Proposals In New Hampshire,"
365Gay.com, 2007-MAR-06, at:
Copyright © 2007 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-APR-19
Latest update: 2009-MAR-27
Author: B.A. Robinson