Starting the New Year with ‘I Do’: New Hampshire Recognizes Same-Sex Marriages from Midnight

New Hampshire’s gay and lesbian couples are expected to gather throughout the night to ring in the start of the new year with champagne and wedding bells as New Hampshire’s gay marriage law takes effect at midnight.

The law, which was signed by Governor John Lynch in June, 2009, won’t grant gay and lesbian couples any more rights than they currently have under the state’s civil union law, but it will give them equal access to the term “marriage”.

Symbolically this is important, but more than that, when the federal Defense of Marriage Act is repealed, having access to terms like “marriage” and “spouse” will be helpful from a legal standpoint and could mean that New Hampshire’s married gay and lesbian couples might finally have access to the 1150+ benefits that are given to heterosexual unions but are currently denied gay and lesbian partners.

The New Hampshire gay marriage bill was amended during the legislative process so that it expressly states a religious institution’s right to decline to marry gay and lesbian couples. Religious organizations can also deny couples affiliated services such as wedding photography and the like.

A handful of gay and lesbian couples have said that they will gather just after midnight at the Statehouse in Concord to have their civil marriage ceremony performed, echoing the events of two years ago when many couples journeyed to the Statehouse to have their civil union ceremony at this time in 2008. Claire Ebel, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, will officiate.

The Los Angeles Times has an insightful piece today in which they interview several of New Hampshire’s gay and lesbian residents regarding the new marriage law. Some will marry just after midnight at one of the many events being held to celebrate the law’s coming into effect, while others, who have had various partnership celebrations in the past, such as commitment ceremonies and civil unions, plan to wait until later in the year, preferring to take a little more time to plan their wedding.

The Los Angeles Times notes that New Hampshire’s gay and lesbian couples that were previously joined in civil unions do not actually need to go through a wedding ceremony in order to be married. This is because New Hampshire’s civil unions will be converted into civil marriages by 2011. After December 31, 2010, the state will no longer issue civil union licenses.  

Overall, 2009 has been a mixed year for gay marriage. California’s Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 which meant gay marriages would no longer be recognized after they were briefly legalized in 2008 following a court ruling that struck down a previous constitutional ban. A court case will begin in January in which lawyers will argue that Proposition 8 is itself unconstitutional.

Also in 2009, Maine lawmakers approved gay marriage, but then voters decided to block the law at the ballot despite a very strong campaign from gay rights advocates.

After a long wait, the New York Senate voted to block gay marriage legislation, while a vote on gay marriage in New Jersey is still pending.

Yet, at the same time, District of Columbia’s Council voted to recognize gay marriages from out of state, and in December also chose to allow gay marriages. However, the bill must first clear Congress before it becomes law. Congress are likely to take up the issue early in 2010.

Vermont legislators also legalized gay marriage in 2009, while Iowa’s Supreme Court overturned a ban on gay marriage, finding it unconstitutional. Many conservative Iowans have called for a referendum on gay marriage in 2010, mindful that gay marriage has never won at the ballot. Iowan Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has said that he will not allow any bill that would block gay marriage to come to the floor, however.

As ever, gay marriage remains a hot-topic issue for many, and will no doubt be just as controversial in 2010 as it was in 2009.

All that said, New Hampshire is starting 2010 with a new level of recognition for its lesbian and gay couples, and although this gift is not quite complete while the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) remains in place, and it will most likely still be in place until 2011 at least, it is a positive way to begin 2010 and to celebrate a new year in which even more steps toward full equality can be made.

Care2 Action:

Ask legislators to repeal DOMA by supporting the Respect for Marriage Act. Sign the petition today.

Care2 Related Reading:

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Jeff Belmonte.


Erie Moon
Marsha Reed4 years ago

Very well put Jon L ,
Merry Part and Blessed Be

Jon L.
Jon L4 years ago

(cont. from below)

... all about. Get your own Holy Days and stop super-imposing your made up holidays over the top of those of others who you don't agree with. Do some research, then develop some respect for others beliefs and traditions. Get your own. Merry YULE!!!

Jon L.
Jon L4 years ago

Carol G. - you obviously didn't read my first comment thoroughly. Nowhere in there did I mention "the fear of god". The fear I see as the root of Judaism, Islam, and yes, xtianity, is the fear of "heaven or hell". That is the fear which you use to gain converts and maintain followers. No one wants to go to hell (wherever or whatever that may be) so why wouldn't they want to be xtian?! Well, I have seen the light and the light shows the truth of those religions (yes, xtianity is a religion whether you like it or not). The truth is they are very much fear based. You say you preach the truth, I say you preach fear to further your religion and to convince yourself you are right. You call it love, I call it perversion! Any time you call fear love, that is perverted. Hate is not the opposite of Love, the opposite of love is FEAR! Wake up! I speak the truth. You are like all those people in Logan's run looking forward to riding the carousel on your 30th birthday, knowing it is taking you to somewhere great. The truth is you are simply on your way to death. But, go ahead and believe anything you want if that makes you feel better, just don't preach your perversions to me expecting me to "believe". Mark Twain (Samuel Clemons) said, "Faith is believing what you know ain't true." Peace! Merry Meet and Blessed Be!!! Oh, and please give us back our Yule. Christians raped it from us and called it Christmas in an attempt to overwrite who we are and what we as Pagans are

pam w.
pam w4 years ago

Well Carol...your religious texts are your business, of course. But...biblical texts are NOT law in this nation, nor should they be! Otherwise, I couldn't work on Sunday, sass my mother, blaspheme or covet my neighbor's husband!

We have freedom FROM religion here....especially freedom from hatred and bigotry which denies people the equal rights to marry and form the kinds of families you supposedly support.

It wasn't so very long ago that Christians justified slavery based on their bibles....was it?

Carol G.
Carol G6 years ago

DEBRA FOR YOUR COMMENT & perssonal mailing..otherwise and also, I would not have been privy to this additional comment by Elizabeth which I will address for her and anyone else that MAY run across this.
Dear Elizabeth..We (I) as a Christian do not hate or judge. I share my knowledge as instructed by my Lord,to share His truth with those that are unaware, misguided or uninformed. I do this because I love my brothers and sisters. If I did not do for them; to provide instruction of the truth, then I to am committing a sin of complacentcy. I do not want to be accused of this. So Elizabeth, if you care to, please open your Bible to the *New Testament and go to the Book of Romans. Reading the whole Book would be wonderful but I imagine you would rather just read the verses pertinent to this opinion which you have. * Elizabeth Irving-Waddleto says: Nowhere in the Bible..against gays or against gay marriage (read the New Testament)...]*
AND I QUOTE..from the New Testament
1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies, one with the other.
1:26 Because of this God gave them over to "shameful lusts". Even their women "exchanged natural relations for unnatural" ones. In the same way men also "abandoned natural relations with women" and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed "indecent acts" with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their "perversi

debra k.
debra k6 years ago

I agree with Carol, Gods Laws are very much more important than human civil laws. Remember when Jesus spoke to the prositute at the well, she believed in him, and he told her not do what she was doing for she was forgiven for her wrongdoing. I believe that living together, homosexuals, are all works of the weakness of humans who want their desires to be accepted to unchain themselfs from morals. what sickens me is that religion accepts this so they can have more members in the church. Civil Laws are mans laws.

Elizabeth Irving-Waddleto
Elizabeth Irving6 years ago

Oh good, just found your response and will bug you again, Carol. Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus say anything against gays or against gay marriage (read the New Testament). I am not a lesbian, but I have never been bothered by the few times I've seen gays or lesbians holding hands. However, I have often been bothered by heterosexuals kissing and "sexing" in public. How do you explain that to your children?
If you receive this in your in-box, then it's only because you marked that you wanted to receive comments, so I'm very pleased to be loving and to send you another. Thank you so much (a Catholic and married woman, who also doesn't enjoy having her religious beliefs and tenets questioned.)**E

Carol G.
Carol G6 years ago

Give it a rest Elizabeth...This thread is 30 days old. I was surprised to see this in my inbox AGAIN. None of us that stand behind our beliefs hate anyone. We (I)am simply saying, NO-ONE has the right to ORDER me to loose the moral values and/or fiber of my Faith. Nor does anyone have the right to tell me what I HAVE to allow others to teach my children or grandchildren. And by the way,Read the Bible and you will find it is EXPLICITLY denounced. I intend to show no disrespect to you or others that believe as you but I will tell you, you are wrong..Don't you dare degrade my brothers and sisters by saying this is a CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE. This is NOT civil rights. If you enjoy watching two men or two women publicly display their sexual energies..then more power to you..but I DO NOT ENJOY trying to explain to a small child WHY they are french kissing or a man with a beard is joustling around with high heels and a mini skirt. What they do in their own home is none of my business but teaching my grandchild its ok for two people of the same sex to have CHILDREN (unlike) a traditional home,I do have the right to say "NO". CIVIL butt. Good Christian brothers and sisters were tortured, murdered, abused and degraded for the color of their skin, from whence they came, the language they spoke/speak and some even for the clothes they wear. And I'll tell you another thing...none of those brothers and sisters involved in CIVIL RIGHTS came from 2 of the same sexual gender!!!

Elizabeth Irving-Waddleto
Elizabeth Irving6 years ago

I must admit that I'm really tired of people constantly inserting their personal religious beliefs when gay marriage is brought up. Jesus NEVER said anything at all about this topic (as recorded in the New Testament). This is not a religious issue, it is an issue of Civil Rights. Right now, certain Americans are being deprived of a basic right, the right to marry and make a life-long, legal commitment to someone they love. In the US, this is wrong. Period.

Ariel M.
Ariel M6 years ago

Thank God, and I really mean, thank God! I believe that God loves everyone and wants us to love others. He wants homosexuals, His children like everyone else, to be allowed to openly express their love for each other. God does not condemn love, he condemns hate and violence, such as the hate against his gay and lesbian children.