New Hampshire House Panel Advances Gay Marriage Repeal

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com October 26 2011 8:55 AM ET

The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee voted 11-6 on Tuesday to advance a bill that would repeal the marriage equality law and replace it with a form of civil unions.

The Associated Press reports on the committee’s nod for the measure that would eliminate all future same-sex marriages and instead allow unmarried adults, including relatives, to enter into civil unions. The panel rejected a bill that would have simply repealed same-sex marriage.

Opponents of repeal argued that the proposed civil unions replacement would create an unequal new status and legal confusion by allowing existing same-sex marriages to remain valid. More than 1,500 same-sex couples have married since the marriage equality law passed in 2009.

“The bill would not enact the same civil unions law that was in effect before gays were allowed to marry,” reports the AP. “That law granted gays all the rights and responsibilities of marriage except in name. The proposed civil unions law would be open to any two adults and would let anyone refuse to recognize the unions. It also would allow anyone to discriminate against the couples in employment, housing and public accommodations based on religious or moral beliefs.”

The full House is expected to vote on the bill early next year. It would then head to the Senate for consideration. Republicans, who led the push for repeal in the committee, control both houses of the New Hampshire legislature.

Governor John Lynch, a Democrat, has vowed to veto the repeal attempt.