New Hampshire Approves Gay Civil Unions

Voting down party lines, the New Hampshire state senate today voted 14-10 to approve same-sex civil unions. As the House has already passed the bill, it now goes to governor John Lynch, who has said he will sign it.

NhAnd what a difference a single election can make. The Concord Monitor: “The bill’s success is an about-face from two years ago, when a study panel recommended giving no meaningful consideration to extending legal recognition to gay couples. That panel, staffed mostly by supporters of a ban on gay marriage, concluded that homosexuality is a choice and endorsed a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to unions between a man and a woman. Democrats won control of the Legislature last fall for the first time in more than a century.”

Presidential hopeful John Edwards was among the first of the candidates to release a statement lauding the vote: “Today, Gov. Lynch and the state of New Hampshire showed us that the idea of America — fairness, justice and equal opportunity — can become a reality when we have the courage to stand up for what is right. New Hampshire’s decision to recognize civil unions and grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights granted to heterosexual married couples is an important step in the fight for justice. This is an issue of fundamental fairness, and by passing this law, New Hampshire’s leaders chose fairness over discrimination.”

New Jersey, Connecticut, and Vermont will now recognize civil unions. Washington, Maine, California, New York and Washington D.C. have domestic partnership laws.

You may have missed…
New Hampshire Gov Says He’ll Approve Same-Sex Civil Unions [tr]
New Hampshire House Passes Civil Union Bill [tr]


  1. Leland says

    John Edwards amazes me again with, in this decade at least, the unique willingness to run toward gay positive issues not away from them! Maybe there’s hope after all.

  2. Daniel says

    Does this grant gays and lesbians all the rights of married people? I know our law in California offers some–but not all. While I laud New Harpshire’s Governor and Senate–I would like to know how equal these domestic partners are to heterosexual marriage.

  3. Dave says


    The civil union laws in Connecticut, New Jersey, Vermont, and now New Hampshire are identical to marriage.

    The only difference is the name.

    And of course, they don’t provide the federal benfits either because of the federal DOMA, but there’s nothing anyone can do about that until the feds change their marriage laws.

  4. Zeke says

    Edward’s statement impressed me too Leland.

    I noticed that he said that this was “an important STEP in the fight for justice”. [EMPHASIS mine]


    That was an excellent response! Edwards seems to be the candidate least afraid of openly showing support for gays and gay issues. In fact, lately he’s seemed down right proud to parade his pink credentials.

    Hillary and Obama are definitely behind in their gay positive visibility.

  5. Zeke says

    Not so fast Dave. We have seen from reports in New Jersey and other states that have “civil unions” that they are not universally accepted by the private sector in the same way marriage is. Some companies refuse to offer spousal benefits to civil union couples because “they aren’t married”. Car insurance companies aren’t required to treat civil union couples the same as married couples. It isn’t accurate to say that they give ALL the same benefits.

    And I find it interesting that everyone says that they give the same rights, but in virtually every state that passes civil unions/domestic partner legislation that supposedly gives the SAME rights, within a few months there is another bill submitted to give civil unions another right or benefit that automatically came with marriage.

    The fact of the matter is, they are not necessarily the same, no matter how their sponsors, the HRC and right-wingers want to spin them.

  6. Kyle Childress says

    Hello Daniel,

    You appear to be mis-informed on California’s domestic partnership laws. Since 2005 domestic partnerships have had all of the rights of marriage, except for very limited matters. In fact, the law that extended those benefits to DPs, AB205, specifically provides that whereever the term “spouse” is found in the state code, its regulations and laws, the term “domestic partner” should be substituted. With that, California went as far as it could go in granting all the marriage rights to domestic parters. In fact, it has gone so far that next year domestic partners will have to file joint income tax returns with the state, just like married couples are required to do.

    Most folks don’t realize that California’s law has changed so dramatically because AB205 was passed during the recall of Governor Davis. All eyes were on that debacle, so AB205 snuck in quietly on little cat paws.

  7. says

    Kyle, You are mistaken, the domestic partners laws in California still fall short of equality. The current problem is that CA’s DP program has added many of the costs and liabilities of marriage, while with-holding many specific benefits.

    Little nuances like Medicaid recapture rules, which have protections for the assets of married couples but not domestic partners, have actually driven some Californians with DPs, to terminate their contract lest they lose vital SSI, Medicaid/MediCal benefits.

    The situation is still very complicated, much of the language is nebulous, and many GLBTQ orgs in CA are urging a go-slow approach, particularly for GLBTQ couples with issues like disabilities.

  8. Zeke says

    Kyle, Friend of Jonathan is right. We keep repeating that they have the same rights but that simply isn’t so.

    CA DP provides for ALL the responsibilities but not all the rights and benefits.

    And once again, as long as it’s called something other than marriage, private companies do not HAVE TO give the benefits offered to married partners to domestic partners. All they have to do is state that the benefits are available to the “married partner” or “spouse” of an employee.

    Have you tried registering your domestic partner as your spouse with GEICO car insurance in CA, VT, CT, NJ?

  9. Kyle Childress says

    It is my understanding that the MediCal issue related to domestic partners is that the rules treat DPs as married, that being the case, the non-disabled partner’s assets and income are taken into account in determining whether the disabled person qualifies (or continues to qualify) for MediCal. That being the case, I am confident that there are domestic partners who have termiated their partnership so that the disabled partner could still qualify. Nonetheless, the same rules are applied to married folks, so I find it hard to see have domestic partners are treated differently from married couples. I know little about MediCal and what is required to qualify. I could easily be wrong, so please feel free to correct me.

    Also, I will be the first one in line to say that as good as the domestic partnership law is (IMHO), it is nowhere near where we would be having marriage rights. The state can provide the same legal rights, but Zeke is correct in saying that private companies continue to treat us in a dissimilar manner. However, such companies should read Koebke vs. Bernardo Heights. In that opinion, the Cal Supreme Court, citing AB205, said that private companies must treat domestic partners in the same manner as marriage couples. One good class action against the GEICOs of the world will correct that in short order.

  10. John says

    The California Legislature clearly intended for AB205 to provide equity to same-sex couples in all state-related matters through DP. Unfortunately, three years later, it appears that has not happened “on the ground.”

    Many private companies simply ignore the law. And unless more civil suits are won, they’ll continue to ignore it.

    Even government agencies like the DMV continue to discriminate when it comes to name changes and such. The DMV claims no specific legislation exists to allow DPs to change their last name (even though it was implied in AB205 that this right would be included within “administrative rules”, along with hundreds of other rights).

    This has force the Legislature to refine their approach, creating more specific laws to “fill in the gap” as needed. And they have done this every year. However, no matter what they do, DP can never replace “marriage” as a deeply ingrained institution in peoples’ mind.

    I should note that this isn’t merely a California problem, it’s a problem shared by ALL “separate but equal” regimens…including civil unions. Similar issues have come up in Vermont and Hawaii over the years, and I expect they will come up in Maine, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, Oregon, and New Hampshire. DC is even more problematic since changes to the DP law has to be approved by Congress. And we know how fickle they are!

  11. says

    As a resident of New York State, I hope we are the next state to pass a gay marriage law. Governor Spitzer has promised he will introduce such legislation, although it may be a tough fight in the Legislature.

  12. anon says

    The NJ CU law is expected to face another series of court battles to live up to the NJSC mandate, and we can expect companies to be sued for discrimination.

  13. Stephen says

    NH has done a good thing for same sex long-term partners in signing a civil union law.

    Marriage will always be between a male and a female. Within that definition there is an inherency that the two have ability to pro-create without artificial means and providing they are healthy. The entity of a man and woman legally bound (married) will ALWAYS be different, i.e., not equal to a same sex partnership (civil union). The very nature of the relationships are different (that is, not equal). Hence, the government provides certian tax benfits, etc. to a married couple becuase it is BENEFICIAL to keep civilization alive. There is nothing wrong with this. Same sex couples do not have the same ability (without some articial means or by a male donor of his sperm). The civil union law passed in the several states thus far, ideally bridge the gap of inequality to the extent the nature of the relationships allow.

  14. Zeke says

    Jesus Christ Stephen would you stop with the anatomy lessons already. You are so tiresome with this ad nauseam innies vs. outies meme and who can and can’t breed crap. Especially when your so inconsistent when you bend over backwards and jump through hoops to explain how gay people with children still shouldn’t be eligible whereas infertile, sterile or elderly straight people, or those who simply choose not to procreate, ARE.

    My son deserves to have his parents married just as much as the neighbor children’s do.

    Get over yourself.

  15. Zeke says


    I would be interested in knowing if you are in a relationship; how long you’ve been in it (if applicable); and if you have kids.

    I’m sure you will say it’s none of my business but I say that if you feel that you should have a say in denying MY family marriage, then I have a right to at least know something about your relationship status.

  16. Zeke says

    So you don’t believe that children created by “artificial means” is valid and worthy of recognition by our government; not worthy of the rights of a “natural” child.

    You really make me want to lose my religion Stephen.

  17. Zeke says

    Stephen, if you REALLY believed in the bullshit you regularly spew in these comment sections you would simply say that marriage licenses should be granted to couples upon the birth of their first child. If you said that, I would disagree with you but I wouldn’t call you out for being such a double talking hypocrite. But you twist and turn and talk about how people who COULD, in a PERFECT world (if they weren’t infertile, sterile, elderly etc), COULD have children “naturally” should be given marriage simply based on the combination of the right body parts. And you further twist and turn to explain how my husband and my child, who was planned for and WORKED for, is “less than” those produced by some drunken straight strangers who meet in a bar and 10 minutes later conceive a child in the back of a pick up truck.

    You truly need to get your head out of James Dobson’s ass and start dealing with the real world.

    You also need to figure out why you have such an inferiority complex.

    I could care less if you feel inferior, but I’ll be DAMNED if I’m gonna sit here and let you say that I, or my husband, or my kid is.

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