House approved similar legislation last month.
Washington - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised the New Hampshire state Senate's vote today in favor of legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry. The Senate voted 13-11, on second reading, in favor of an amended version of House Bill 436, which would allow same-sex couples to marry under state law. The bill passed the House last month by a 186-179 vote. Since the Senate voted on an amended version, the bill will return to the House after third reading in the Senate.
"Just one month ago, there were only two states where same-sex couples could marry. Now, with this vote in New Hampshire, we are on the verge of having five states that recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples. It's been quite a month, and we look forward to more states joining this group," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We congratulate Senate President Sylvia Larsen, Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Deb Reynolds for their leadership in reaching a positive result. We also congratulate GLAD, PFLAG New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, 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."
"The votes in the House and Senate simply recognize that same-sex couples who form committed relationships and loving families deserve the same level of respect and dignity afforded to other couples. The Senate's amendment protects the religious freedom of clergy and religious organizations, while respecting the rights of same-sex couples to protect and care for their families. I hope the House will concur with the amended version by the Senate, and that Gov. Lynch will join the legislature and the majority of New Hampshire voters and allow this important legislation to become law," Solmonese said.
A poll released earlier this week by New Hampshire Freedom to Marry showed that 55% of New Hampshire voters support marriage for same-sex couples, while 39% are opposed. The poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, surveyed 491 New Hampshire voters from April 13-22.
This year, HRC has mobilized members to support House Bill 436. 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.
Four other states have recognized marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont (effective September 1, 2009). Earlier this month, Iowa's state supreme court unanimously ruled that the state constitution guarantees same-sex couples the equal right to marry. On April 7, Vermont's legislature overrode Gov. Douglas' veto, making Vermont the first state to recognize marriage equality through the legislative process. Last week, Connecticut enacted a bill codifying the state supreme court's October 2008 decision recognizing marriage for same-sex couples.
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.
Legislatures in Maine and New York are considering legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry under state law. New Hampshire currently permits same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. Lesbian and gay 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.
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