Early last month, New Hampshire’s Legislature voted to approve same-sex marriage in the Granite State. Governor John Lynch, however, was unsatisfied with the language. Making a statement after the vote, he called for better protection for religious groups who might refuse to participate in gay marriage.
Giving precise language he wanted adopted, the leadership of the legislature worked to revise the bill to appease the Governor. The revised bill passed the State Senate on May 21, but fell short by only one vote in the House. This failure sent the bill to conference committee where a compromise was hammered out.
Governor Lynch had indicated that he supports the changes made in conference, and would sign the bill if it passed the legislature. This morning, the bill passed in the Senate 14-10 and was sent on to the House, where a close vote was expected.
The bill’s chances in the House were bolstered by the outcome of a special election, which seated a supporter of gay marriage in the House. Andy White, a firefighter and school board member from Lebanon was elected to fill a vacancy. He was sworn in and seated in time for today’s vote.
The House passed the measure this afternoon with a margin of 198-176, sending the bill onto Governor Lynch. His office reported that the Governor was expected to sign the bill at 5:15PM Eastern Time today. When he does so, New Hampshire will become the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage. In New England, only Rhode Island doesn’t allow same-sex marraige.
Presently, efforts are also underway in New York, although the marriage bill faces slim chances in the Senate there. Additionally, the Council District of Columbia is expected to introduce a bill allowing gay marriages in our nation’s capital sometime later this year.
Victory in New Hampshire comes just days after the Supreme Court of California upheld Proposition 8, which made gay marriages in the Golden State illegal. Some 18,000 gay couples remain legally wed, however, having done so before Proposition 8 passed.