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N.H. House passes civil unions bill

CONCORD, N.H. (BP)–The New Hampshire House easily passed a bill April 4 that would legalize civil unions and make the Granite State the sixth one nationwide to grant homosexual couples the legal benefits of marriage.

The bill, H.B. 457, passed 243-129, and now goes to the Senate. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats. Democratic Gov. John Lynch has not said if he would support it, but, according to the Manchester Union Leader, expressed concern about how the bill would interact with other laws.

“I think it’s more complicated than some may think, in terms of what the impact is on many other statutes which are in place,” he said.

Lynch added, according to the Union Leader, “I will weigh in on [the bill] once I make up my mind on it.”

Civil unions are legal in Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey. California has something similar but calls them domestic partnerships. Massachusetts remains the only state where “gay marriage” is legal.

The vote largely was along party lines, but 27 Republicans voted for it and six Democrats voted against it, the newspaper reported.

Opponents of civil unions call them “marriage by another name.” They also argue civil unions are a step toward “gay marriage” legalization.

Democratic Rep. Ed Butler, who is homosexual, voted for the bill but said he wants to see the House eventually pass a “gay marriage” bill.

“Civil unions does not give us equality but it does bring us closer…. It sanctions our love and devotion in a way that has not been done before in our state,” he was quoted as saying in the Union Leader. “We are not a threat to safety or stability of your belief system.”

But Republican Rep. Mark Clark, who opposed the bill, said civil unions would have a negative impact on New Hampshire.

“The fact is this is not an issue of civil rights, as [has] been told over and over again,” he was quoted as saying. “I believe civil unions strike at the very core of our society, strike at core of its structure.”

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