New Hampshire Representative Jim
Splaine (Democrat) says he has introduced a gay marriage bill in the
state Legislature. But another bill to be presented next week seeks
to limit the influence of legal gay marriages performed elsewhere.
Splaine, who is openly gay, is the
sponsor of the New Hampshire civil unions bill that passed in 2007.
The gay marriage bill, which is
co-sponsored by state Rep. Paul McEachern (Democrat), amends the the
current civil unions law to marriage.
“The bill would essentially provide
for full marriage equality,” Splaine told the Portsmouth Herald
News. “I submitted the bill because I think it's important
that we keep this dialogue going.”
The bill will likely be scheduled for a
public hearing or sent to a committee after its introduction in the
new legislative session on January 7.
Several states currently offering civil
unions include New Jersey and California. Recently, a New Jersey
commission found that civil unions fall short of marriage in terms of
legal protections. “This commission finds that the separate
categorization established by the Civil Union Act invites and
encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children,”
the commission said in their unanimous report.
But opponents of gay marriage in New
Hampshire have also announced plans to limit the influence of legal
gay marriages performed in states such as nearby Massachusetts and
State Rep. David Hess (Republican) says
he will introduce legislation that would repeal the part of the civil
unions bill that recognizes legal gay marriages performed elsewhere.
(Recognized as civil unions by the state.)
“It leaves civil unions here
unchanged,” Hess said. “I think there is a significant
difference between civil unions and marriage, which is a concept of
tradition recognized all over the world. I think same-sex marriage
goes beyond and is not needed.”
“Civil unions are not marriage, but a
legal concept generated in several states. Same-sex marriage is
contrary to Christian traditions and every religious concept of
marriage between a man and a woman.”
“Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron,
because one of the primary functions of marriage is procreating,”
Splaine, however, argues that civil
unions are secondary to marriage, saying there will always be a gray
area in the law that's up for interpretation.
“I think that eventually society will
come to appreciate that when two people find one another and are
willing to make a commitment to share their love and caring, that is
a wonderful thing and is good for all of us,” he told Fosters
New Hampshire legislators passed on a
similar Splaine-sponsored gay marriage bill last year, but Splaine
says the bill will eventually succeed.
“It may not be in 2009, but I believe
it will,” he said. “I put it in to continue the dialogue,
because the more we talk about it, I believe people will see the
fairness of full equality. Two years ago, civil unions passing
opened the door and has been mostly well received. As of this
weekend, there are 610 civil unions in New Hampshire.”