- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire lawmakers voted yesterday to authorize civil unions and sent the measure to Gov. John Lynch, who had announced last week that he would sign it.

“This legislation is a matter of conscience, fairness and of preventing discrimination,” said Colin Manning, a spokesman for the Democratic governor. “It is in keeping with New Hampshire’s proud tradition of preventing discrimination.”

Three other states offer civil unions for same-sex couples: New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont. Neighboring Massachusetts in 2004 became the only state to allow same-sex “marriage.”

Unlike other states, there was no active court challenge to push New Hampshire to act on the issue.

In fact, the success of civil unions was an about-face from two years earlier, when a study panel recommended that New Hampshire give no meaningful consideration to extending legal recognition to same-sex couples.

That panel had concluded that homosexuality was a choice and endorsed a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to unions of one man with one woman. State lawmakers have defeated proposed constitutional bans on same-sex “marriage” two years in a row.

Sponsors of the civil-unions bill called it a door to marriage in all aspects but name. Opponents argued that it would lead to the collapse of traditional values.

“Let’s just call it what it really is, no sugarcoating,” said Republican Sen. Robert Letourneau of Derry. “This creates same-sex marriage. There is no right to marriage in either the New Hampshire Constitution or the federal Constitution.

“We don’t let blind people drive or felons vote — all for good and obvious reasons,” he said.

Yesterday’s legislation, passed 14-10 along party lines in the Senate — Democrats in favor, Republicans opposed — will allow civil unions in New Hampshire starting Jan. 1.

Washington, Maine, California, New York and the District of Columbia recognize domestic partnerships. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, this week pledged to introduce same-sex “marriage” legislation in the next few weeks.

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