A decision on whether to allow gay and
lesbian couples to marry in New Hampshire is expected on Wednesday
when the Senate takes up a gay marriage bill.
Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary
Committee voted 3 to 2 against the gay marriage bill that narrowly
passed the House last month. Committee Chair Deborah Reynolds, a
Democrat, joined the committee's two Republicans, Sheila Roberge of
Bedford and Robert J. Letourneau of Derry, in voting against the
The panel's recommendation does not
bind the full Senate but is likely to influence the bill's final
outcome. Passage in the Democratic-led Senate appeared dim before
the recommendation. Governor John Lynch, a Democrat, has said he
opposes gay marriage but has remained quiet on whether he would veto
the measure should it reach his desk.
Two years ago, lawmakers in the state
approved civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Both the civil
union and gay marriage bill were introduced by openly gay
Representative Jim Splaine, a Democrat.
In moving against the bill, Reynolds
said New Hampshire isn't “ready” for gay marriage, having recently
passed civil unions legislation.
The Editorial Board at the 'Concord
Monitor' took Reynolds to task, calling her argument a “copout.”
“It's an attempt to signal to gay
couples and their supporters that while she doesn't necessarily
oppose their efforts, neither will she do anything to help. Her
words are rooted not in justice or fairness or courage but in fear.
Surely New Hampshire voters can expect more from their elected
officials than that,” the board wrote.
Passage in the Senate, however, remains
nebulous. Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon said he expects all
10 Republican senators to vote against the gay marriage bill. Only
eight Democratic senators are on record supporting the bill, leaving
the legislation five votes shy of approval.
According to the website
BlueHampshire.com, three of the six remaining Democratic senators –
Deborah Reynolds of Plymouth, along with Betsi DeVries and Lou
D'Allesandro of Manchester – are leaning against passage, while the
other three – Peggy Gilmour of Hollis, Sylvia Larsen of Concord and
Kathleen Sgambati of Tilton – remain undecided.
Half of the six New England states –
Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts – have legalized gay
marriage. Bills that would legalize gay marriage in the three
remaining states of Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire are winding
through their Legislatures.