Governor says he won’t sign bill legalizing same-sex marriage without amendment allowing churches to refuse to perform gay weddings
CONCORD, N.H. — Gay marriage is on hold in New Hampshire.
Gov. John Lynch has demanded changes before he’ll sign legislation that would make the state the sixth to allow gay marriage, but those changes failed by two votes in the state House on Wednesday, May 20.
House members objected to language in the bill that would have allowed religious groups to decline to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies or to offer gay couples other services.
A version of the bill with more limited religious protections passed the state’s House of Representatives on March 26.
Lynch, a Democrat, said last week he wouldn’t sign the legislation without language to better protect churches and their employees against lawsuits if their beliefs preclude them from marrying gays.
The House has instead voted to further negotiate with the Senate, which approved the changes Wednesday.
Jaws dropped in the gallery overlooking New Hampshire’s House when members voted to send the amendment to committee.
Among the onlookers was Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the church.
He said the House pushed the pause button, not reverse, and is optimistic lawmakers will come up with an acceptable bill this session.
One of the leaders of the opposition, Kevin Smith of Cornerstone Policy Research, said even he believed the bill was going to pass. He said the vote shows it’s time to put the matter to rest for now and get back to issues such as the budget.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 22, 2009.