New Hampshire Governor Issues Statement Outlining Path to Marriage Equality

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)– The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued the following comments after Governor John Lynch provided a written statement this afternoon on a bill passed by the state legislature that would permit same-sex couples to marry in New Hampshire.

“We are encouraged by the Governor’s comments outlining a specific path to achieve marriage equality in New Hampshire,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “The Governor has made clear that he will sign a bill that allows same-sex couples to marry while also protecting religious liberties.  We thank the legislature for their efforts to date and the Governor for his thoughtful deliberation. We urge the legislature to work with the Governor to make this important bill a reality.  This legislation will strengthen New Hampshire families and give meaning to the promise of equal rights for all.”

The New Hampshire House and Senate have both voted in favor of HB 436, legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry in New Hampshire.  The bill has not yet reached the Governor’s desk.

In his statement, Governor Lynch said, “I have heard, and I understand, the very real feelings of same-sex couples that a separate system is not an equal system… a civil law that differentiates between their committed relationships and those of heterosexual couples undermines both their dignity and the legitimacy of their families.”  The Governor further acknowledged that “we must act to protect both the liberty of same-sex couples and religious liberty” and provided language aimed at expressly protecting religious institutions, stating that “if the legislature passes this language, I will sign the same-sex marriage bill into law.”

New Hampshire currently recognizes civil unions for same-sex couples.

Five states have recognized marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (effective September 1, 2009) and Maine (scheduled to be effective mid-September 2009 pending possible referendum challenge).

New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction.  California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality.  The Proposition 8 vote has been challenged in court; a decision by the state supreme court is expected by June.

This week the New York Assembly passed legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry under state law.  The bill will now be considered by the State Senate.

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state.  To learn more about state by state legislation visit: www.hrc.org/state_laws

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.