by Rex Wockner
New Hampshire’s House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage March 26 by a vote of 186-179.
The measure now moves to the Senate.
“This is a very proud day for New Hampshire and a very proud day for every American who believes in the promise of equal rights for all,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We congratulate Reps. Ed Butler, Paul McEachern, Barbara Richardson and Jim Splaine for their leadership in sponsoring this bill.”
At present, Massachusetts and Connecticut permit gay and lesbian couples to marry and New York recognizes gay marriages entered into elsewhere. In addition, 18,000 same-sex couples were married in California between June and November 2008, before voters amended the state constitution to stop same-sex marriage. The validity of both the amendment and the 18,000 marriages is under review by the state Supreme Court, with a ruling due by early June.
Eight states and the District of Columbia legally recognize same-sex couples but do not let them marry. California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and D.C. extend all state-level rights and obligations of marriage to gay couples who enter into a civil union or domestic partnership. Maine, Washington and Hawaii grant registered gay couples some benefits of marriage.
Same-sex marriage also is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and Spain.