"I have heard, and I understand, the very real feelings of same-sex
couples that a separate system is not an equal system. That a civil law
that differentiates between their committed relationships and those of
heterosexual couples undermines both their dignity and the legitimacy
of their families.
"I have also heard, and I understand, the concerns of our citizens
who have equally deep feelings and genuine religious beliefs about
marriage. They fear that this legislation would interfere with the
ability of religious groups to freely practice their faiths.
"Throughout history, our society's views of civil rights have
constantly evolved and expanded. New Hampshire's great tradition has
always been to come down on the side of individual liberties and
"That is what I believe we must do today.
"But following that tradition means we must act to protect both the
liberty of same-sex couples and religious liberty. In their current
form, I do not believe these bills accomplish those goals.
"The Legislature took an important step by clearly differentiating
between civil and religious marriage, and protecting religious groups
from having to participate in marriage ceremonies that violate their
fundamental religious beliefs.
"But the role of marriage in many faiths extends beyond the actual marriage ceremony.
"I have examined the laws of other states, including Vermont and
Connecticut, which have recently passed same-sex marriage laws. Both go
further in protecting religious institutions than the current New
"This morning, I met with House and Senate leaders, and the sponsors
of this legislation, and gave them language that will provide
additional protections to religious institutions.
"This new language will provide the strongest and clearest
protections for religious institutions and associations, and for the
individuals working with such institutions. It will make clear that
they cannot be forced to act in ways that violate their deeply held
"If the legislature passes this language, I will sign the same-sex
marriage bill into law. If the legislature doesn't pass these
provisions, I will veto it.
"We can and must treat both same-sex couples and people of certain religious traditions with respect and dignity.
"I believe this proposed language will accomplish both of these goals and I urge the legislature to pass it."