New Hampshire House Panel Approves Bill to Repeal Same-Sex Marriage, Allow for Civil Unions

Anti-gay forces at work in New Hampshire today.

A New Hampshire House Judiciary panel voted 3-1 today to amend and advance a bill that would have repealed same-sex marriage in the state, and barred civil unions, so it would allow for the latter, the Union Leader reports:

Nh The original form of the bill would have banned both gay marriage and civil unions outright. The bill, HB 437, now allows both same-sex couples and heterosexual couples to form civil unions.

New Hampshire law allowing gay couples to marry took effect in January 2010. The bill preserves marriage for gays who have married under the current law. From the time it takes effect, marriage would be available only to men and women.

The bill allows a form of civil union that has never existed in the state, open to any two persons. It also contains language that allows any business, individual, school or association to refuse to recognize civil unions, exempting them from state laws that bar discrimination on housing, employment, contracts and grants.

The full House will not be able to vote on the bill until 2012, the paper reports.