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A new poll shows that more New Hampshire residents are in favor of civil unions for gays than equal marriage rights, but neither position receives the support of a majority. In the poll, conducted by Research 2000 on behalf of the ConcordMonitor newspaper, 35% of respondents were in favor of same-sex marriage, while 44% were in favor of civil unions, the Associated Press reports. The state legislature will take up two proposals on civil unions for gays beginning next week, when Democrats will be in power for the first time in 130 years. "It's good timing to discuss this, in large part because of the changes in the legislature, but also because we've seen what has happened in Massachusetts," state representative James Splaine, the sponsor of one of the civil unions bills, told the AP, noting that marriage equality in the neighboring state has not had the negative impact that antigay foes had predicted. A pollster told the Monitor that the poll results were similar to those in Vermont before that state created civil unions in 1999. "The numbers are almost identical to where Vermont was," Del Ali, who polled that state's residents then, told the paper. If the legislature passes a civil unions bill, the state's Democratic governor, John Lynch, has indicated he might sign it. According to a spokesperson, the governor "thinks we need to make sure the rights of all of our citizens are protected." The AP notes that Lynch supported domestic-partner benefits as a trustee of the state university system.
The poll surveyed 600 people in New Hampshire who identified themselves as regular voters. (The Advocate)