New Hampshire Becomes Sixth State to Recognize Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

by HRC Staff

Gov. Lynch signs legislation passed by state Senate and House of Representatives Law will take effect Jan. 1, 2010

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today applauded the state legislature and Gov. John Lynch for passing legislation to recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples under state law. The senate voted 14-10 earlier in the day in favor of the bill. The house followed later in the afternoon, voting 198-176. The law will take effect January 1, 2010. For a comprehensive summary of HRC's work in New Hampshire, including a video and photo slideshow, visit:

"With Gov. Lynch signing legislation passed by the state Senate and House, New Hampshire has become the latest state to recognize that loving, committed couples, and their families, should receive equal dignity and respect under the law," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "No religious institution will have to recognize any marriage under this law, as the language proposed by Gov. Lynch and agreed to by the legislature made abundantly clear."

The Human Rights Campaign salutes the work of key state groups and leaders, including: Gov. John Lynch, Senate President Sylvia Larsen, Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Deb Reynolds, House Speaker Terie Norelli and Representatives Jim Splaine, Ed Butler, Paul McEachern, Barbara Richardson, New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, MassEquality, GLAD, and the many activists, including HRC members, who have been working to build support for this legislation, and the majority of New Hampshire voters who support marriage equality.

"When the National Organization for Marriage [a group opposed to marriage equality] started making $50,000 ad buys in New Hampshire, I put out a call for help and HRC answered. We could not have done this without them," said Mo Baxley, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition.

HRC made a significant commitment of resources to the successful efforts to achieve marriage equality in New Hampshire. Working with the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, HRC provided substantial field and communications expertise in the weeks leading up to Gov. Lynch signing the bill. HRC deployed 10 field staff to New Hampshire, hired three New Hampshire-based consultants to assist with field organizing efforts, and mobilized HRC members and supporters through online action alerts and telephone calls.

In 2006, HRC worked closely with legislators, community groups and local leaders to help elect fair-minded majorities to both the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Senate, which subsequently voted to pass civil unions legislation in 2007, followed by the marriage bill this year.

In addition to New Hampshire, five states have recognized marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (effective September 1, 2009), and Maine (effective September, 2009, pending a possible referendum). California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. The Proposition 8 vote was challenged, but the state supreme court upheld the amendment last month. The 18,000 marriages of same-sex couples performed before the passage of Proposition 8 remain valid.

Five states-California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada (effective October 1, 2009), and Washington (as of July 26, 2009, pending possible repeal effort)-plus Washington, D.C. provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Hawaii provides same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits. New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples validly entered into outside of New York. The New York legislature is considering marriage legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry in those states, and the D.C. Council has passed legislation that would recognize marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in other jurisdictions (that legislation is going through a Congressional review period).

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states, please visit:

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.

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