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Same sex marriage (SSM) in New Hampshire

House passes SSM bills.
Senate committee holds hearings

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2009-MAR-26: House receives SSM bill:

Loving, committed same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions in New Hampshire since 2008-JAN. These give the couples and their children all of the state benefits, rights, and obligations that are given to opposite-sex marriage couples, with one overwhelming exception: their relationship is not recognized as marriage -- only as a civil union.

Most gays, lesbians, bisexuals, civil rights activists, etc. feel that civil unions are an separate and inferior classification that is inherently not equal to marriage. Most religious and social conservatives probably agree, but would prefer to retain the status quo.

A YouTube video:

This was supplied by Cornerstone Policy Research, a group opposed to marriage equality:

House debate and vote:

The New Hampshire House of Representatives initially defeated a bill to legalize same-sex marriage (SSM) by only one vote on the morning of MAR-26. However, a motion to reconsider the bill resulted in the measure passing later that day with a reasonably comfortable margin of 186 to 179. 1

Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, (D-Manchester) said:

"When two people, whoever they are, find love and make it manifest by joining together, then our society is blessed."

Rep. John Cebrowski, (R-Bedford) condemned the bill as creating:

"... the most radical redefinition of marriage that can be imposed. You cannot make two similar things into something they were never meant to be. ... Creamy peanut butter and crunchy peanut butter can't be a peanut butter and jelly." 3

He lost us at the word "creamy".

(In interest of full disclosure: Members of our group have eaten both peanut butter sandwiches and peanut butter/jelly sandwiches. We have found both to be delicious. However, we do prefer the latter combination. This may be influenced by our sexual orientation. We are all heterosexual.)

Rep. David Pierce, (D-Etna) is an openly gay man who has been in a committed relationship for the past two decades. The couple have two adopted daughters. Pierce said:

"When my children grow up to be old enough to understand what discrimination means, they shouldn't have to learn they were objects of it. It is separate but equal all over again. Would you volunteer to ride at the back of the bus? Would you volunteer to give up your marriage license for a civil union license?" 3

State Republican Party Chairman John H. Sununu disapproved of the House vote. He described it as an:

"... attempt by the liberal Democrats in the Legislature to impose their San Francisco agenda on the state of New Hampshire."
Mo Baxley, executive director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition disagreed, saying that lawmakers are sending two clear messages that:

"New Hampshire does not discriminate, and all families count." 3

We suspect that both Sununu and Baxley are correct: The San Francisco agenda is marital equality and reflects the principle of "liberty and justice for all."

Kevin Smith of Cornerstone Policy Research, a conservative group opposing SSM  said:

"We are deeply disappointed that the representatives changed their minds on this vote. We thought we had it. We did, by one vote, and then some switched, and we will find out who they are and we'll let the voters know who switched on this vote." 4

Governor John Lynch (D) signed the civil unions bill in 2007. However, he has stated in the past that he is opposed to SSM. He has not indicated whether he would veto a bill if it is passed by the House and Senate. If he were to veto the bill, it is essentially impossible for the House to have sufficient votes to override the veto.

2009-APR-15: Senate committee holds hearings on SSM bill:

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

Fox 44 reported that:

"Dueling demonstrations greeted lawmakers as they arrived this morning: Emotions ran high as the philosophical debate created some face-to-face confrontations. Several hundred people against gay marriage and a smaller number supporting it gathered in separate groups on the Statehouse plaza, mixing briefly as they headed into the building for a Senate committee hearing on whether New Hampshire should be the fifth state to allow gay marriage. As they mixed, some from the pro-gay marriage group shouted 'Love means everyone,' prompting others to counter: 'Support traditional marriage'." 4

The term "traditional marriage" refers to the union of one woman and one man. Among many religious conservatives, supporting it carries with it the connotation of excluding unions of two men or of two women as being unworthy of the word "marriage."

Two main opinions were expressed by those testifying at the hearing:


Some were opposed to SSM for religious reasons. Many of them believe that children need a parent of both sexes in order to have a proper upbringing. This is a belief promoted by many conservative religious groups, but denied by many professional groups of therapists, social workers, human sexuality researchers, and others.


Some supported SSM as a civil right to which all committed couples should have access. Many of them suggested that civil unions are inherently separate and unequal when compared to marriage. 4

Amy Wright of Concord, NH has worn a wedding band for nine years even though the state does not recognize her lesbian relationship as a marriage. She said:

"I am better than to get on the bus and still sit in the back. I want to sit in the front of the bus."

Bradley Giuda of Epsom, NH said the purpose of marriage was to procreate. He is apparently unaware that lesbians can have children as easily as heterosexual women. All they really need is one spermatozoon. He also believes that allowing loving, committed same-sex couples to marry would threaten civilization. He said:

"What is proposed is a perversion of the very fabric of our country." 5

Mo Baxley said:

"It's going to be close in the Senate. It is such a political football. But I have no doubt this will happen here. The question is when." 6

Some suggested that the bill might be tabled to delay the vote until after the 2010 elections so that voters would have time to forget about the voting on the bill.

The Senate's nine Republicans are expected to vote as a block against the bill. The 14 Democrats are expected to split their vote. One seat is vacant until a special election is conducted during the week of APR-19. There was a general feeling that the vote could go either way.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "New Hampshire House OKs same-sex marriage," CNN, 2009-MAR-26, at:
  2. "House Approves Same-Sex Marriage After Bill Initially Fails. Lawmakers Change Minds After Bill Fails By 1 Vote," WMUR-TV, 2009-MAR-26, at:
  3. "New Hampshire [House] Approves Same Sex Marriage Bill," LiveSteez, 2009-MAR-27, at:
  4. "New Hampshire Senate holds hearings on same-sex marriage bill," TowerRoad, 2009-APR-15, at:
  5. Abby Goodnough, "Vote in Doubt as New Hampshire Senate Takes Up Gay Marriage," The New York Times, 2009-APR-16, at:
  6. Andrew J. Manuse, "New Hampshire gay-marriage bill may get tangled up in senate," Reuters, 2009-APR-14, at:

Copyright 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-APR-19
Latest update: 2009-MAY-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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