Friday, March 27, 2009

HRC Lauds Passage of Marriage Equality Bill by New Hampshire State House of Representatives

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House votes 186-179 to recognize marriage for lesbian and gay couples in the state; bill now moves to state Senate

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised the New Hampshire State House of Representatives’ passage of legislation that would permit lesbian and gay couples to marry. The House of Representatives voted 186-179 in favor of House Bill 436, which would allow lesbian and gay couples to marry under state law.

“This is a very proud day for New Hampshire and a very proud day for every American who believes in the promise of equal rights for all,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We congratulate Representatives Ed Butler, Paul McEachern, Barbara Richardson, and Jim Splaine for their leadership in sponsoring this bill, as well as GLAD, PFLAG New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, and the many activists, including HRC members, who have been working to build support for this legislation.”

Solmonese continued: “The New Hampshire State House of Representatives recognized that lesbian and gay couples who form committed relationships and loving families deserve the same level of respect afforded to straight couples. We hope that this bill will pass the state Senate and be enacted as law.”

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.

Two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, currently permit gay and lesbian couples to marry under state law. New York recognizes marriages by gay and lesbian couples legally married outside of the state. Earlier this week, Vermont’s state Senate voted 26-4 to pass legislation that would allow lesbian and gay couples to marry in Vermont. New Hampshire or Vermont could be the first state to adopt marriage equality legislatively. (California’s legislature has twice passed bills that would have permitted gay and lesbian couples to marry, but each bill was vetoed).

In addition to New Hampshire, seven states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition, short of marriage, for gay and lesbian couples. Four other states—California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont—plus Washington, D.C. provide gay and lesbian couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Maine, Washington and Hawaii provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits, not all the rights provided to married couples.

Gay and lesbian couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. To learn more about state by state legislation visit:
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