Wedding bells are closer to chiming for one and all in the Granite State: New Hampshire’s Senate passed a bill that would allow same-sex couples the right to civil marriage. The measure squeaked by with a vote of 13 to 11. The Senate-passed legislation made cosmetic changes to the bill, which now goes back to the House for a final OK.
NH Gov. John Lynch has stated his religious views regarding marriage — he believes in one-man-one woman unions — however, at this time he has not indicated whether he will sign the measure into law if it ultimately win legislative approval.
From New Hampshire’s Union-Leader:
The bill, amended on the Senate floor, draws a distinction between civil and religious marriage, and says that any two individuals have a right to join together in a civil marriage.
Last week Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Deborah Reynolds, D-Reynolds, opposed the bill and voted with a committee majority that it should be killed. She said voters in her district told her they favor the legislation, and urged the Senate to vote for an amendment that was drawn up Tuesday night.
She said the wording “gives everyone in the state the right to seek a civil marriage … This is a compromise that is respectful to both sides in this debate and meets our shared goals of equality in state laws for all the people of New Hampshire. The people of this sate share the core values of equality for all, tolerance and acceptance regardless of our differences”
Republicans voted in a block against the measure, joined by Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester.
Sen. Matthew Houde, D-Lebanon, said many younger voters in the state have already concluded that same-sex marriage is acceptable, and are waiting for lawmakers to catch up to them.
“This is not a question of ‘if’ for me. It’s a question of ‘when.’ We should be eager to be on the right side of this issue,” Houde said.
In other NH news, the state senate approved a measure allowing medical marijuana and killed a bill allowing transgender protections.