Governor Lynch approves the SSM
bill in principle, but asks for changes.
Governor conditionally approves bill:
As mid-2009-April approached. there was extensive speculation by the media that the bill had been on the governor's desk for over 5 days
and thus had automatically become law. The state constitution
"If any bill shall not be returned by the governor within five days (Sundays
excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in
like manner as if he had signed it unless the legislature, by their adjournment,
prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law."
However, it turns out that the bill had been delayed in reaching his desk. So
the five-day clock had not started.
On 2009-MAY-14, Governor Lynch said that he had talked with legislators,
religious leaders and voters about the SSM bill. He said that he would sign the bill,
but only if the
Legislature first modified it to give greater protections to individuals and churches who wanted to
continue to discriminate against same-sex couples. That way, individual
congregations could reject requests by same-sex couples to:
Be married in the church sanctuary,
Rent a church hall,
Attend a religious retreat together,
Take a church-sponsored pre-marital educational course,
Obtain couples' counseling, etc.
In addition, clergy, organists, and other employees who normally provide
wedding services to the public could freely discriminate against same-sex
couples without running the risk of a lawsuit. Finally,
discrimination by independent contractors, like florists, wedding photographers, limousine drivers, etc. would also be
protected by the revised legislation.
Governor Lynch stated:
"If the legislature passes this language, I will sign the same-sex marriage
bill into law. If the legislature doesn't pass these provisions, I will veto
The New York Times quoted Governor Lynch as
"New Hampshire's great tradition has always been to come down on the side
of individual liberties and protections. But following that tradition means we
must act to protect both the liberty of same-sex couples and religious
An excerpt from the Good Morning Live
program of New England Cable News (NECN):
House Speaker Terie Norelli said she would act on the governor's suggestions
as quickly as possible.
Sylvia Larsen, President of the Senate, believed that the changes
would be made. She said:
"I applaud the governor for keeping an open mind. ... The
language that we will be addressing only improves the protections for religious
organizations and individuals."
Representative James Splaine, who is the primary sponsor of bill, predicted:
"We can find a way to do that in the next week or two, and then we'll have
This opened a path whereby New Hampshire became the sixth U.S. state to
There was some criticism of Governor Lynch's decision:
Kevin H. Smith, executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research, said
Lynch had "broken his trust with New Hampshire voters."
John Sununu, head of the state's Republican
Party and past governor said that Lynch had "... wiggled out of his commitment to traditional
CPR Action, the legislative action arm of Cornerstone Policy Research -- a conservative
activist group opposed to marriage equality -- stated:
"Governor Lynch has proposed a 'cover' religious exemption amendment - much
like the same smokescreen amendment the Senate added. This new language adds
protections for religious organizations that are ALREADY covered under the
First Amendment - but still does NOTHING to protect independent business
owners and persons of faith, who are Justices of the Peace, who will now be
forced to provide their services for gay 'marriage' ceremonies or risk being
fined up to $50,000 by the Human Rights Commission!"
"Now, the legislature is going to add yet another amendment to another bill
(the third one) in an attempt to "fix" what was a very poorly written bill to
begin with." 5
In common with many other conservative groups,
they enclose the word marriage in quotation marks to indicate their refusal to
recognize SSM as a valid form of marriage.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Governor Lynch Lets Deadline Pass - Is Gay Marriage Now Legal in New
Hampshire?" LezGetReal, at:
Abby Goodnough, "New Hampshire Pact Near on Same-Sex Marriage," New York
Times, 2009-MAY-14, at:
Eric Moskowitz, "N.H. set to OK same-sex marriage. Lynch to sign bill if
religious groups gain protections," The Boston Globe, 2009-MAY-15, at:
"Governor Lynch to sign gay marriage bill if House and Senate make changes,"
CPR Action, undated, at:
http://www.cpraction.org/ This is a temporary listing and will probably be
removed when the next civil rights conflict arises.