New Hampshire House Overwhelmingly Rejects Attempt to Repeal Marriage Rights

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has rejected a bill that would repeal the states new gay marriage law, just an hour after it also rejected a resolution seeking to amend the state constitution to restrict marriage between a man and a woman.

Both attempts by same-sex marriage opponents were soundly defeated, the first by a 210-109 vote and the second by 201-135 vote. The constitutional amendment required a three-fifths majority to pass. "In resounding votes today, New Hampshire lawmakers sent a clear signal of their continued support for the freedom to marry, rejecting attempts to strip marriage away from committed couples who happen to be gay,” said Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry.

The New Hampshire votes followed a similar stand by legislators in Iowa last week.

“Iowa and New Hampshire's refusal to take the freedom to marry away underscored the lesson learned in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut: including same-sex committed couples in marriage helps families and harms no one,” said Wolfson.

If the amendment had passed in the House and Senate, it would have gone on the general election ballot in November, where it would need a two-thirds majority to pass.

Rep. Robert Thompson, D-Manchester who married his partner on Jan. 2, asked the House, "How has my marriage impacted upon your marriage or how has it diminished the value of your marriage?"

A third attempt to repeal same-sex marriage by delaying the house vote until March 17 was also defeated, and by so doing takes away the opportunity for local voters to weigh in on petitions at town meetings that ask for a popular vote on the amendment.

New Hampshire adopted a gay marriage law last year and it became effective Jan. 1. The same law allows those in civil unions to convert their relationship to marriage this year, or wait until the conversion becomes automatic on Jan. 1, 2011.

“As same-sex couples continue to marry and the sky doesn't fall in the nation's two first presidential-primary states,” said Wolfson, “Americans will have more chances to think anew about the importance of treating others as we all would want to be treated, and to ask our elected officials whether they, too, support equal justice under the law,".

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