New Hampshire governor signs gay marriage bill into law

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Governor Lynch signs gay marriage lawAs promised, Governor John Lynch has just signed a marriage equality bill into law, making New Hampshire the sixth state to legalize gay marriage. Earlier today, the bill passed the both the state Senate (14-10) and the House of Representatives (198-176) before going to the Governor’s desk. Read Governor Lynch’s full statement below:

New Hampshire’s great tradition has always been to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections.

That tradition continues today.

Two years ago in this room, I signed civil unions into law. That law gave same-sex couples in New Hampshire the rights and protections of marriage. And while civil unions was recognized as a step forward, many same-sex couples made compelling arguments that a separate system is not an equal system.

They argued that what might appear to be a minor difference in wording to some, lessened the dignity and legitimacy of their families.

At the same time, the word “marriage” has significant and religious connotations to many of our citizens.

They had concerns that this legislation would interfere with the ability of religious groups to freely practice their faiths.

Today, we are standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities – and respect – under New Hampshire law.

Today, we are also standing up for religious liberties. This legislation makes clear that we understand that certain faiths do not recognize same-sex marriage, and it protects them from having to participate in marriage-related activities that violate their fundamental religious principles.

With the signing of this legislation today, New Hampshire will have taken every action possible to ensure that all families have equal rights to the extent that is possible under state law.

Unfortunately, the federal government does not extend the same rights and protections that New Hampshire provides same-sex families, and that should change.

Here in New Hampshire, this debate has been filled with passion and emotion on both sides.

Two years ago, after an equally passionate debate, the people of New Hampshire embraced civil unions as a natural part of New Hampshire’s long tradition of opposing discrimination.

It is my hope, and my belief, that New Hampshire will again come together to embrace tolerance and respect, and to stand against discrimination.

That has how we in New Hampshire have always lived our lives and that is how we will continue as we move forward.

Most families in New Hampshire will awaken tomorrow, go to work and to school, and feel no impact from what we have accomplished today.

But for some, they will awaken tomorrow knowing we have said to them that they are equal, that they have the same rights to live and to love as everyone else.

Today is a day to celebrate in New Hampshire. Today should not be considered a victory for some and a loss for others.

Today is a victory for all the people of New Hampshire, who I believe, in our own independent way, want tolerance for all.

That is truly the New Hampshire way.

As requested, the new law contains additional language to protect religious organizations and institutions. Though many are still not satisfied.

The law goes into effect Jan 1, 2010.

Post by ILO on 06/03/09 at 3:11 pm