An effort to repeal the state's same-sex marriage law was rejected by the New Hampshire House of Representatives Wednesday, with lawmakers in Concord voting 211-116 to kill the repeal effort. The bill was introduced over a year ago and has been the subject of intense debate and an extensive advertising campaign by Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, a group defending same-sex marriage as a matter of personal liberty.
"Today is a banner day for the freedom to marry," co-chairman Craig Stowell, a Claremont Republican said in a statement released by the organization following Wednesday's vote. "Our opponents have been crowing about getting their two-thirds, but in the end, it's clear they couldn't muster the votes." Same-sex marriage opponents were hoping for a two-thirds majority in favor of repeal, since that would be needed to overcome a promised veto by Gov. John Lynch. Lynch, a Democrat now in his fourth two-year term, enraged defenders of traditional marriage when he signed the same-sex marriage bill into law in the spring of 2009 after having previously stated that he favored retaining the legal definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. New Hampshire now defines it under the Equal Access to Marriage law as follows:
Marriage is the legally recognized union of 2 people. Any person who otherwise meets the eligibility requirements of this chapter may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender. Each party to a marriage shall be designated "bride,'' "groom,'' or "spouse."
The law supplanted an act establishing civil unions for same-sex couples that Lynch had signed in 2007. Both bills were passed by Democratic majorities following that party’s victories in the state House and Senate elections of 2006 and 2008.
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Photo: New Hampshire's iconic "Old Man of the Mountain" formation before its collapse.