Same sex marriage (SSM) and
civil unions in New Hampshire
House approves civil unions. Senate
committee approval. Opinion
2007-APR-04: Civil Unions bill passes House:
Bill HB 437 "AN ACT permitting same gender couples to enter civil unions and have the same rights, responsibilities, and
obligations as married couples" 1 passed the New Hampshire House with an overwhelming vote of 243 to 129. Republican members
of the house attempted to weaken the bill by introducing a series of amendments. All were defeated.
|Rep. Mark Clark (R) said: "The fact is this is not an issue of civil
rights, as been told over and over again. I believe civil unions strike at
the very core of our society."|
|Rep. Nancy Elliott (R) told the House that the bill was a gay marriage
bill in disguise. She said that if it becomes law: "... marriage will lose
its meaning, and the need for marriage will decrease as it becomes
|Lee Swislow, Executive Director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders said: "The journey is not over until we have equality, until we
have the same protections and choices as other New Hampshire citizens, until
we have marriage." 2|
2007-APR-12: Senate committee approves bill:
Hearings were held by the Senate's Judiciary Committee on a bill a bill to
create a system of civil unions in New Hampshire.
|Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, asked the Senate
to pass the bill. He is the only openly gay bishop in the worldwide
Anglican Communion. He said that the bill would
enhance religion, not threaten it. He suggested that the state should
embrace same-sex couples who value monogamy and commitment. He said: |
"Would that we could get all heterosexual couples to take these
commitments and responsibilities so seriously. ... 'What we seek in the
civil realm is the equal treatment by the state government in supporting
this development of our relationship with the legal, financial and
societal underpinnings which are afforded married couples at the very
moment they say 'I do,''' he said.
|Diane Murphy Quinlan, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Manchester warned that civil unions would harm traditional marriage. She
''No other form of relationship between persons can be considered
equivalent to a natural relationship between a man and a woman out of
whose love it is possible for children to be born. ... 'Marriage is not
simply a matter of emotion between two people or a lifestyle choice."
The Roman Catholic Church does not approve of in-vitro fertilization and
artificial insemination, and thus does not give weight to same-sex couples
who use these techniques to form a family by conceiving children together.
The committee approved the bill by vote of 3 to 2. All three Democrats voted
in favor; both of the Republicans voted against it. The bill was sent for a vote
in the Senate, which was originally scheduled for APR-18. 4
2007-APR-15: Union Leader newspaper conducts Internet poll:
The Union Leader conducted an Internet public survey on civil unions. 1,753
persons participated; 53.3% opposed civil unions for same-sex couples; 46.7% were in favor.
This poll immediately raises two questions:
|How representative were the participants? They were self-selected. It is
well known that those who oppose equal rights for gays, lesbians and
bisexuals are much more highly motivated to make their opinions known that
are those who favor equal rights.|
|What percentage of the public is needed to reject civil unions? The
right to enter into a relationship and have that bond recognized by the
state is as fundamental and important a right as any that exists. Should
a minority of adults identified by their sexual orientation be denied such
an important right by a simple 50% plus one vote?|
As expected, many of those opposed to civil unions for loving and committed
same-sex couples cited religious reasons for their position. Many of those who
favor civil unions said that they are an basic civil right. Some comments:
|Isaac Masana of Somersworth wrote:|
"Do you really think that two April Nor'easters on the exact same
days of the voting of this bill ... are a coincidence? I personally
think God is not entirely pleased with the way the state of New
Hampshire is voting in regards to gay and lesbian lifestyles. Remember
Sodom and Gomorrah?"
He is referring to Genesis 19 in the Bible. The incident is unrelated to
civil unions by loving, committed same-sex couples. It describes an attempted
rape and bestiality between men of Sodom and another species: angels.
|Wendy Theriault of Nashua wrote:|
"As far as marriage being a vehicle for producing children, does that
mean that all childless marriages are invalid? ... Is love in such
abundant supply in this world that we can afford to legislate against
|David Holt of Derry said that allowing anything other than a marriage
between a man and woman would lead "to a tragic downfall of our society."|
|An anonymous gay male who has been in a 26 year relationship said that
government recognition of same-sex relationships "... has already happened
all around us and the sky has not fallen. Vermont and Massachusetts have not
seen the disintegration of their societies, rather they have enriched their
society by acknowledging the worth of all citizens."|
|Bill Maynard of Manchester wrote that the:|
"... same-sex union concept is totally misguided. We are not talking
about equal rights. We're talking about perversion of nature and of
God's will. It's immoral and unnatural. ...Next misguided ignorant
perverts will request marriage of minors, multiple persons, animals,
trees, whatever. The perversion must be stopped now!!"
|Kevin Jordan of Nottingham wrote:|
"The nation was built upon marriage between one man and one woman ...
This tradition goes back 10,000 years. Who are we to play God and change
the order of the universe?" 4
In reality, there are eight different marriage and
family structures mentioned in the Bible.
|A Dartmouth College-area resident who has been in a same-sex
relationship for 24 years wrote:|
"I have cared for, cooked, cleaned, worried and done the things that
most couples do. Yet I don't have the same rights... I wish I could turn
the tables and all the straight women who have devoted their lives to
taking care of their husbands couldn't get medical coverage, Social
Security or retirement benefits. And if some other family member
contested your husband's will you would most likely lose all that the
two of you worked hard for in life."
|Jerry Sneirson of Newmarket wrote:|
"Disapproval of a person's nature is unacceptable discrimination.
'Live free or die' and 'live and let live' are not incompatible ideas."
["Live free or die" is the official motto of New Hampshire.]
|Amy Neithercut of Goffstown, a Republican supporter, is unhappy that the
legislature is considering civil unions without allowing the public the
opportunity to veto them.
"They are supposed to represent the people, but it appears that many
of the representatives are more interested in advancing their own
personal agendas than listening to their constituents. If civil unions
are allowed and recognized in New Hampshire, it will have a profound
affect on families and businesses. I hope that Lynch has the foresight
to realize what a mistake this would be for our state and vetoes this
bill if it passes the Senate."
|A Merrimack Valley resident favors same-sex civil unions and wrote: "Why
should heteros suffer alone?" 5|
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "HN 437-FN-Local - As amended by the House," Text of the House bill,
- "NH House OKs Civil Unions," 365Gay.com, 2007-APR-04, at:
- "Gay Bishop Urges Approval Of Civil Unions In N.H.," 365Gay.com,
- Tom Fahey, "Civil unions head into homes stretch," Union Leader, at:
- Pat Grossmith, "Web survey: 53% say no civil unions," New Hampshire
Union Leader, 2007-APR-15, at:
Copyright © 2007 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-APR-19
Latest update: 2009-MAR-27
Author: B.A. Robinson