In what many organizations and pundits are calling a surprise move, the New Hampshire House voted 211 to 116 to kill a Republican-backed bill repealing the state’s marriage equality law to the Senate. The vote was taken Wednesday, March 21st as Bay Windows went to press. The bill would have replaced same-sex marriage with civil unions for New Hampshire’s gay and lesbian couples. Any same-sex marriages that occurred before the repeal would have still been valid.
Gov. John Lynch had pledged to veto the bill if it reached his desk. A two-thirds Legislature vote would have been required to override the governor’s veto.
Marriage equality was signed into law in New Hampshire in 2009. Marriages began on January 1, 2010. According to recent polls, over 60% of New Hampshireresidents support marriage equality.
Both sides of the issue plan to continue their fight to this fall’s election. The Associated Press reported that the conservative National Organization for Marriage has pledged to spend $250,000 to help lawmakers running for re-election who support repealing the law. The repeal legislation, sponsored by state Rep. David Bates, was introduced in 2010 after Republicans took control of the House and Senate but held over to this year.
Craig Stowell co-chair of Standing Up for NH Families said in a statement "...we must keep a watchful eye on the Legislature, and make sure voices of equality are heard in November."
“Today’s victory affirmed the equality of New Hampshire’s gay and lesbian citizens,” said Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD. “After the last election where Republicans gained control of both the House and the Senate, some thought that marriage equality was doomed. But many, many Republicans courageously stood up against repeal. We thank them and we congratulate Standing Up for New Hampshire Families and all the organizations and individuals who worked so hard to protect the freedom to marry.”
Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry's national campaign director, recognized Gov. John Lynch, "We are grateful to Governor John Lynch for his principled defense of the freedom to marry law, and to the many lawmakers—both Republican and Democrat—who listened carefully to their constituents and recognized that New Hampshire is stronger when all committed couples can share in the freedom to marry."
Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia.