NH: Marriage Equality Hearing Feb. 5th!

One month before the day that the California Supreme Court hears arguments in the Prop 8 case and the very day that the Hawaii Civil Unions bill and the Washington Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009 get their first hearings, New Hampshire legislators will be opening discussion on a marriage equality bill!  More from Mo Baxley, Executive Director of the New Hampshite Freedom to Marry Coalition:

Marriage Equality Hearing

The public hearing for HB 436, the bill that would create marriage equality in NH, will take place Thursday, Feb. 5, 1 PM in room 206 of the Legislative Office Building (behind the Statehouse).

It is urgent that you contact members of the Judiciary Committee. Representatives are willing to support this legislation, but they need to hear from you!!

Equality is within our reach, but we must do the reaching!!

Please forward this e-mail and help spread the word.

The opposition is already mobilizing against us! This is a very vocal minority. They will have 100% attendance at the hearing giving the perception that they represent more people than they do.

Contact the House Judiciary Committee that you want, deserve and demand equality for LGBT people and our families.

When they ask you if support HB436  and marriage equality.

Say Yes.

When they ask if you support HB415 The bill defines gender identity and expression and adds it to the list of classes of people protected from discrimination.

Say yes!!

We do not have to settle for the back of the bus in NH, we can pass marriage equality!! We must not let them believe we will settle for less.

For more information on Public Hearings and giving your testimony, read our “Take Action” page.

Unlike DP and CU bills, which require trees-worth of paper and oceans of ink, marriage equality bills are blissfully simple.  Here is the key provision of the bill.  So easy for all to understand.

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.

And here is the text of the bill in its entirety.






AN ACT relative to civil marriage and civil unions.

SPONSORS: Rep. Splaine, Rock 16; Rep. McEachern, Rock 16; Rep. Butler, Carr 1; Rep. B. Richardson, Ches 5

COMMITTEE: Judiciary


This bill eliminates the exclusion of same gender couples from marriage, affirms religious freedom protections of clergy with regard to the solemnization of marriage, and provides a mechanism by which same gender couples who have entered into a civil union prior to the enactment of this bill may obtain the legal status of marriage.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine

AN ACT relative to civil marriage and civil unions.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Statutory Construction; Gender-Specific Terms. Amend RSA 21:3 to read as follows:

21:3 Number; Gender. Words importing the singular number may extend and be applied to several persons or things; words importing the plural number may include the singular; and words importing the masculine gender may extend and be applied to females. Gender-specific terms relating to the marital relationship or familial relationships, including without limitation, “spouse,” “family,” “marriage,” “immediate family,” “dependent,” “next of kin,” “man,” “woman,” “groom,” “bride,” “husband,” “wife,” “widow,” or ” widower,” shall be construed to be gender-neutral for all purposes throughout New Hampshire law, whether in the Revised Statutes Annotated, state administrative or court rule, policy, common law, or any other source of civil state law.

2 Marriage; Marriages Prohibited; Recognition of Out-of-State Marriages. RSA 457:1 – RSA 457:3 are repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

457:1 Equal Access to Marriage. 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.

457:2 Marriages Prohibited. No person shall marry his or her father, mother, father’s brother, father’s sister, mother’s brother, mother’s sister, son, daughter, brother, sister, son’s son, son’s daughter, daughter’s son, daughter’s daughter, brother’s son, brother’s daughter, sister’s son, sister’s daughter, father’s brother’s son, father’s brother’s daughter, mother’s brother’s son, mother’s brother’s daughter, father’s sister’s son, father’s sister’s daughter, mother’s sister’s son, or mother’s sister’s daughter .

457:3 Recognition of Out-of-State Marriages. Every marriage legally contracted outside the state of New Hampshire, which would not be prohibited under RSA 457:2 if contracted in New Hampshire, shall be recognized as valid in this state for all purposes if or once the contracting parties are or become permanent residents of this state subsequent to such marriage, and the issue of any such marriage shall be legitimate. Marriages legally contracted outside the state of New Hampshire which would be prohibited under RSA 457:2 if contracted in New Hampshire shall not be legally recognized in this state. Any marriage of New Hampshire residents recognized as valid in the state prior to the effective date of this section shall continue to be recognized as valid on or after the effective date of this section.

3 Affirmation of Freedom of Religion in Marriage. RSA 457:37 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

457:37 Affirmation of Freedom of Religion in Marriage.

I. Clergy persons as described in RSA 457:31 or other persons otherwise authorized under law to officiate at a civil marriage shall not be obligated or otherwise required by law to officiate at any particular civil marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of their right to free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or by part I, article V of the New Hampshire constitution.

II. Nothing contained in this chapter shall affect the right of Jewish Rabbis residing in this state, or of the people called Friends or Quakers, to solemnize marriages in the way usually practiced among them, and all marriages so solemnized shall be valid. Jewish Rabbis residing out of the state may obtain a special license as provided by RSA 457:32.

III. Each religious institution has exclusive control over its own religious doctrine, policy, and teachings regarding who may marry within their faith, and on what terms. No court or other state or local governmental body, entity, agency or commission shall compel, prevent, or interfere in any way with any religious institution’s decisions about marriage eligibility within that particular faiths’ tradition.

4 Civil Unions; Other Jurisdictions; Reference Change. Amend RSA 457-A:8 to read as follows:

457-A:8 Other Jurisdictions. A civil union [or a marriage between a man and another man or a woman and another woman] legally contracted outside of New Hampshire shall be recognized as a civil union in this state, provided that the relationship does not violate the prohibitions of this chapter.

5 New Section; Civil Unions; Obtaining Legal Status of Marriage. Amend RSA 457-A by inserting after section 8 the following new section:

457-A:9 Obtaining Legal Status of Marriage. Two consenting persons who are parties to a valid civil union entered into prior to January 1, 2010 pursuant to this chapter may apply and receive a marriage license and have such marriage solemnized pursuant to RSA 457, provided that the parties are otherwise eligible to marry under RSA 457 and the parties to the marriage are the same as the parties to the civil union. Such parties may also apply by January 1, 2011 to the clerk of the town or city in which their civil union is recorded to have their civil union legally designated and recorded as a marriage, without any additional requirements of payment of marriage licensing fees or solemnization contained in RSA 457. Upon application, the parties shall be issued a marriage certificate, and such marriage certificate shall be recorded with the division of vital records administration. Any civil union shall be dissolved by operation of law by any marriage of the same parties to each other, as of the date of the marriage stated in the certificate.

6 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2010.





AN ACT relative to civil marriage and civil unions.


     The Secretary of State states this bill will increase state expenditures by $52,500 in FY 2010 and decrease state and local revenue by an amount less than $10,000 in FY 2010 and FY 2011. The New Hampshire Retirement System states this bill will increase state restricted expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2010 and each year thereafter. This bill will have no fiscal impact on county revenues and county or local expenditures.


     This bill eliminates the exclusion of same gender couples from marriage, affirms religious freedom protections of clergy with regard to the solemnization of marriage, and provi
des a mechanism by which same gender couples who have entered into a civil union prior to the enactment of this bill may obtain the legal status of marriage. The Secretary of State states this bill will increase state expenditures by the one time costs associated with the necessary software changes, revision and printing of new forms, and mailing costs associated with the distribution of the new forms in FY 2010. The Secretary estimates costs of $44,000 for necessary software changes, $8,000 for printing of forms, and $500 for costs associated with the distribution of the new forms ($44,000 + 8,000 + 500 = $52,500).

     The Secretary also states that the proposed legislation would reduce state and local revenue by an amount less than $10,000 in FY 2010 and FY 2011. According to the Secretary, the reduction in revenue would result from the provision contained within the proposed legislation allowing two consenting persons party to a valid civil union entered into prior to January 1, 2010, to convert the civil union to a marriage, waiving the $12.00 fee, until January 1, 2011. The Secretary’s estimate is based on an assumption that all 602 Civil Unions entered into since the start of the Civil Union legislation on January 1, 2008 would be converted into marriages.

     The New Hampshire Retirement System states this bill will increase state restricted expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2010 and each year thereafter. The Retirement System attributes the increase in restricted expenditures to the inherent conflict with the federal Defense of Marriage Act which states; marriage means only the legal union




     between one man and one woman and spouse refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. The Retirement System states the treatment of a same gender spouse as a spouse under some provisions of RSA 100-A would result in a violation of IRS Code Section 401(a). This violation would terminate the retirement system’s status as a qualified pension trust and resulting exemption to federal taxation. The resulting tax liability would increase state restricted expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2010 and each year thereafter.

           The Insurance Department, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Administrative Services state this bill will not have a fiscal impact on the departments.

     The Judicial Branch states this bill will not have a fiscal impact on the Branch.

     This bill does not contain an appropriation.

Good luck Granite Staters!

cross-posted at Pam’s House Blend.

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34 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. UPDATE: March 5th will be a very busy day!

    I've just been reminded that the Hawaii legislature will also be having its first hearing on its CU bill on March 5th.  A very busy day!

    • What are Hawaii's prospects?

      Wasn't it that state's flirting with full marriage equality that prompted the passage of the federal DOMA?

      • I don't know.

        I don't know if they expect passage on the first go, or are using this session to warm things up.  I do know that two bills are being introduced simultaneously - a marriage bill and a DP bill.  Apparently the strategy is to sacrifice the marriage bill so that the legislature will latch onto the DP bill as proof they're not the worst of the bigotry enablers.  Some history of the HI situation can be found here.  If you click on the diary author's name, you can get to her page and find more recent posts on HI.

        Btw, the HI hearings are today. I mistyped in that comment when I said March.  HI, NH and WA are all having DP/CU/Marriage hearings today.

        Just heard that NM's DP bill failed to make it out of committee the other day.  If you will recall, these are the DPs that Gov. Richardson told a Human RIghts Campaign gathering was already a done deal 2 years ago.  Oops.

  2. Gender Identity and Expression bill also getting hearing today in NH.

    A bill to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity or expression will also get a hearing in NH today at 2 pm.

  3. Gene Robinson's testimony.

    Here's a video of Gene Robinson's testimony today.  He did a great job slaying 2 dragons: the "unchanging" history of marriage, and "marriage is a religious thing".

    • Hopefully that will get some play.

      Granted we shouldn't be basing policy on religious sentiments anyway, but we need to hammer home that their is not a Christian consensus on these issues.  Of course, those two particular arguments are the most bogus of the ones out their and should be pretty easy to shoot down.

      • shooting them down is easy.

        getting people who decide they won't listen to reason to acknowledge that you;ve shot them down is another matter entirely.  i just finished listening to the washington state house and senate committee hearings on the dp expansion bill.  listening to the spewage from those in opposition, you'd think these mountains of crap had never been debunked a million times already.  we debunk, they just keep repeating the same tired hateful crap.  

        i rather enjoyed the moment in the house hearing when a woman testified that 60% of "the people" had voted for one man one woman definition of marriage.  a legislator asked her to which vote she referred.  she stared blankely, then mumbled something about the supreme court, then looked around at her pals who were stage whispering answers to her.  she wasn't testifying, she was spewing crap that she'd heard and wanted to believe.  as it turns out ( and as the legislator reminded her), voters have never voted on marriage in this state, so perhaps she was referring to some past legislative vote.  but it doesn't matter that she thoroughly discredited herself, because her sort aren;t out to win reality-based debates.  they're out to keep the rainbow niggers from moving into their neighborhood.

        • I suppose so

          Still good to get the other Christian message out there, though, especially since Jesus made it a point to associate with those otherwise marginalized by society.  Are there still states without at least some domestic partnership recognition?  I guess I assumed that by now every state would have made it to at least that rung on a ladder of which the highest rung is marriage equality (with civil unions being in between).

          PS: "rainbow niggers" is rather creative:)

          • Do most states have DPs? NO!

            just the opposite.  we have anti-equality laws and amendments in 45 states.

            go here to see maps of lgbt-related laws.  there's one called "relationship recognition".  you'll see that there are few safe places for us to live.

            now maybe you understand why i am not very patient with politicians staying quiet on their promises to lgbt people?  the usa isn't a nice place to be gay, with a few notable localized exceptions.

            • Sorry

              I thought those amendments and laws specifically defined marriage as between a man and a woman, but left the door open to recognizing same-sex relationships in other ways.

              • Most of them do leave the door open

                for CU's as long as the CU's are not "equivalent" or "substantially similar" to marriage (which would be a statutory scheme that all courts have rightly ruled unconstitutional).  There is at least one state that I've seen (can't remember which) that voted to prohibit any sort of legal protections for same-sex couples, but even that state I bet could be persuaded to allow CU's if they were assured that marriage was protected and respected in principle.

            • Ouch!

              I wrote my first comment above before investigating your link.  I didn't realize that any kind of recognition was limited to the Pacific coast and the northeast or that so many states passed what one map refers to as "broader anti-family measures".  I say focus on repealing the federal DOMA because often states follow federal lead as a practical matter even if not required to.  So yes, I've learned something here, but I would still caution that you might only get incremental improvements in the short term in some of these states.

        • What's a rainbow nigger?

          • Kirth gives me a zero for asking a question?

            I know you folks hate us, but Laurel used a term with which I am unfamiliar so asked for a definition. What the hell is wrong with that?

          • it is a fair question,

            especially since i just coined the term. :D

            remember the old "there goes the neighborhood" sentiment from whites regarding blacks?  well certain heterosexuals have the same idea regarding sharing the institution civil marriage with lgbt people.  it is quite common to hear that if lgbt's are allowed to marry, the institution of marriage will be debased.  similarly, certain hetero people get very angry if PD'd or married lgbt people are allowed, by law, to check off "married" on forms.  this is because when the hetero person checks off "married" on forms, they know that no one can be certain any longer that means they are in a DP or marriage with someone of the same or different sex.

            So when our entry into the contract of marriage causes others to 1) think the institution is being degraded, and 2) are terrified that their pure heterosexual pedigree may no longer be so obvious, then that makes we lgbt people analogous to the old racist category of nigger.

            • Since it seems the question was sincere,

              I undid the rating.

            • I know what you mean but still...

              I remember playing the John Lennon "Shaved Fish" greatest hits album in the record store, and "Woman is the Nigger of the World" came on, and I thought everyone would realize that since it's John Lennon, he must be making a Good Point and using it Correctly, but no, one of the customers was a black guy who got very offended and complained, and didn't want to hear any defensive explanation, and luckily my coworker was there to simply apologize and put something else on.

              And as defensive as I was at the time, I've come to realize since that I was wrong and they were right, and yes, Lennon was wrong too.  As much as it might make sense to use the term to refer to any second-class, discriminated-against group, it doesn't work because it reinforces the term even as it supposedly repudiates it.  It really does make the person using the term seem like they might just believe that blacks indeed are second class citizens, and it's an outrage that women are treated like blacks, for goodness sake.  And in your case, where there is already enough animosity between blacks and gays, I don't think you would want to risk increasing it.  The analogy doesn't work and it's offensive.  

              • there is no animosity between blacks and gays.

                there is only animosity between gays, our allies and anti-gay bigots.

                further, "blacks" and "gays" are not mutually exclusive groups, as your comment seems to assume.

            • Gracias

              I'm not that kind of hetero(or that kind of white-guy),  and I'd never heard it before.

            • There goes the neighborhood

              An interesting analogy.  For at least the last 20 years, most of my straight friends who live in the city have rejoiced when gays moved into their neighborhood, because they were sure to be followed, in succession, hip music stores, coffee shops, art galleries, significant renovation of dilapidated housing, Starbucks.  Like a leading indicator for increasing property values.

    • Man I wish we could embed...

      ... that video.  I haven't actually heard him speak much before, but his prepared statement was extremely good.  It was cogent, on point, efficient both in terms of wording and the conceptual framework, temperate, and effective.

      • More audio joy.

        Here is the audio of a talk he gave in Seattle the week before the inauguration.  He's quite a humble and gifted speaker, as you say.  It's no surprise he was elevated to bishop.

  4. here is as excellent summary

    of pro-marriage(ish) efforts happening around the country right now.  it's a little behind the times.  for instance, the NM dp bill has already failed a vote to get out of committee.  but it's still great to see how much is happening.  sadly, the haters' list is about as long.

  5. Hawaii's CU bill voted out of committee.

    Hawaii's CU bill is on its way to the House floor for debate.  The House Judiciary committee met last night after several hours of public testimony and voted unanimously to move the bill along.  There are already enough co-sponsors in the House to insure its passage.  Then it moves along to the Senate, which also looks hopeful.

    Unfortunately, the Lt.Governor testified against the bill yesterday.  Anyone know where the governor stands on the issue?

    • Gov's position unclear

      Apparently in the past she has expressed agreement with voters who passed an amendment defining marriage ten years ago, but has not commented on this particular bill.


    Homobigot John Howard is stalking the LGBT-positive diaries again.  Editors, please remove this post.

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