April, 29th 2009

NH close to legalizing gay marriage the right way

– Liz Mair

I've posted before about New Hampshire inching towards legalizing gay marriage, and the drive to do so within the legislature there.  I have also noted, here and elsewhere, my strong preference for gay marriage being legalized via actual legislative action, instead of via court decisions, which (despite my view that constitutional equal protection clauses can give rise to viable claims that same-sex civil unions and/or gay marriage should be permitted) tend to stir up controversy rather than quell it or resolve what is manifestly a (still) somewhat controversial matter.  So, I'm pleased to see that the New Hampshire Senate voted today to legalize gay marriage within the state.  Via Now! Hampshire:

The Democratic controlled New Hampshire Senate passed an amended version of the controversial measure to legalize gay marriage today. The vote was 13-11 in favor of the measure.

The House passed a similar measure last month by a 186-179 vote. The two chambers must reconcile small changes between the two measures in a conference committee but this is seen as a technicality. Democratic Gov. John Lynch must decide whether he will sign or veto the bill or allow it to become law without his signature. Lynch has been silent on the matter, though he has stated in the past that he opposes same-sex marriage.

It's not clear what Lynch will do at this stage, as Now! Hampshire notes.  However, Mo Baxley, the Executive Director of NH Freedom to Marry said to me in an email following a previous post on this subject that "Our Democratic Governor opposes marriage equality" (as, Ms. Baxley stated, do the New Hampshire Republican Party, generally, and Republicans in the New Hampshire Senate-- something that today's vote, in which no Republican supported the bill in question, certainly does underline).  That may not be a great sign for those advocating for same-sex marriage to be legalized within the Granite State, though from a distance, it seems at least equally possible that Lynch, even as a same-sex-marriage foe, will go the direction of his party, overall.

Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see what comes next (hopefully Lynch signing the bill, and hopefully not anything that could shove this debate back to the courts, which seems to cause more division than progress, in either way that term is defined by those on opposing sides of this issue). [intro]



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