Excellent news. After two hours of debate and almost a dozen votes, legislators in New Hampshire's overwhelmingly Republican-led House of Representatives have rejected an attempt to repeal the state's marriage equality law. HB 437 was rejected by a 211-116 vote, reports the Union Leader.
Some members objected to a proposed non-binding referendum on the issue, and others said the bill would take away rights the state has already granted. "These folks are just people just like you are, they want the same things you do," said Rep. Michael Ball, R-Manchester. "This bill needs to be put down. Put this dog down like it deserves to be." [...]
Gov. John Lynch had vowed to veto the bill if it reached his desk. Lawmakers approved civil unions in 2007 and then in 2009 approved gay marriage, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2010. Since that time, 1,906 same-sex couples have wed under the law.
Leadership of the Republican-controlled legislature has prioritized repealing the marriage equality law enacted in 2009 when Democrats controlled the legislature. But the equal mariage law has proved popular and has enjoyed strong bipartisan support. "One hundred Republicans were among those who opposed HB 437," reports Michael Lavers at EDGE.
Rep. Keith Murphy (R-Bedford) cited a gay relative who has been in a same-sex relationship for two years when he spoke against HB 437. State Rep. Cameron De Jong (R-Manchester) referenced his faith as he testified against the marriage equality repeal bill that state Rep. David Bates (R-Windham) introduced. "God is my judge and today I ask you to support equal rights under the law," he said.
Legislators voted against an amendment to HB 437 that would have replaced the state’s marriage equality law with one that would have allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. Lawmakers also rejected a proposal that would have placed a non-binding referendum on marriage for same-sex couples on the ballot and a motion to debate a measure that would have banned marriage for left-handed people. "The rights of the people are not subjected to popular vote," said Murphy.
More good news: An amendment was defeated which would have forced a non-binding referendum on marriage onto the November 2012 ballot and replaced marriage with civil unions. That amendment failed by a vote of 162 to 188.
Six states currently mandate marriage equality—Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York—as does the District of Columbia. Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire signed legislation to make Washington the seventh state in February. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed his state's marriage equality law in March. Both the Maryland and Washington legislation will head to the November ballot in a voter referendum.