In a 3-1 vote a New Hampshire House sub-committee advanced on Wednesday a bill that would repeal the state’s same-sex marriage law.
Under the bill, which would allow or civil unions for opposite-sex and same-sex couples, same-sex marriages that were carried out since New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law came into force in January 2010 would still be recognized but new same-sex marriages would not be permitted, creating a similar, tiered landscape of rights as occurred in California following Proposition 8.
The bill still faces a vote by the full committee next month and the House in January. The committee voted to recommend killing a second bill that would simply repeal gay marriage.
The two proposed repeal bills would not apply to gay marriages that have already occurred, but would stop new ones. More than 1,500 New Hampshire gay couples have married so far under the current law.
If the House passes a repeal bill, the Senate also must vote on it.
The reason behind the bill? Republican legislators who control both chambers with sizable majorities say that the legalization of gay marriage has harmed their religious beliefs and society as a whole.
Rep. Frances Potter, D-Concord, said gay marriages in N.H. have caused society no harm but this amended bill surely would.
“The passage of a repeal would not end controversy; it would create two kinds of gay couples,” Potter said.
Rep. Donald McClarren, R-Nashua, disagreed, saying he has been harmed by the state’s gay marriage law. “I am not injury-free. The reason I am not injury-free is because of my religious beliefs.”
Gov. John Lynch has said he would veto any attempt to repeal the same-sex marriage law.
Rep. Gregory Sorg, R-Easton, a co-sponsor of the amended bill, told the Leader that legalized same-sex marriage harms society ―even if there’s no evidence of it. “Some societal changes take generations to manifest themselves,” he reportedly said.
Recent results from a WMUR Granite State Poll released in February said that 62 percent of respondents oppose repealing New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law.
It is unlikely that the bill will be voted on by the full House this year.