New Hampshire is
becoming the fourth state to legalize civil unions, and
about 20 couples have decided to be the first to take
advantage of the new law with a late-night ceremony on
the statehouse steps in Concord Monday night.
Jennifer Major of
Gilmanton, who helped organize the group ceremony, said
festivities would begin at about 11 p.m. Monday with poetry
readings and live music. The civil unions can take
place once the law takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
Major and her
partner, Kelley Morris, planned to be among the couples
saying ''I do.''
night ... I come home from work and say, 'Guess what we're
doing on Monday?' She says, 'Getting marriaged,''' Major
said last week. ''We have to keep pinching ourselves
because it's Monday, not next Monday or two weeks from
Snow and freezing
temperatures were forecast during the night. ''I don't
have any winter coats with rhinestones and glitter, so I'm
just going to dress warmly,'' she said.
At the bill
signing in May, Gov. John Lynch called civil unions for
same-sex couples a matter of conscience. ''How could any one
of us look into the eyes of our neighbors, our
friends, or our loved ones if we continued to deny
them these basic legal protections?'' he said.
joins Vermont, Connecticut, and New Jersey in legalizing
civil unions. Massachusetts is the only state that allows
The new law says
civil unions will provide same-sex couples with the
rights, responsibilities, and obligations of marriage,
except the name.
It also says New
Hampshire will recognize legal same-sex unions from
other states, but a group of conservative Republicans in the
legislature is working to undo that part of the law. A
hearing is scheduled for January 24.
estimated 3,500 to 4,000 civil unions will be performed in
the first year. (Beverley Wang, AP)