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 Connecticut.

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,” he added.

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 Daily Democrat.

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.”