The New Hampshire Senate has dismissed
the recommendation of its Judiciary Committee and approved a bill to
legalize gay marriage on a 13 to 11 vote. House members narrowly
approved the bill last month.
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. Lynch does have the
option of allowing the bill to become law without his signature.
Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary
Committee voted 3 to 2 against the gay marriage bill. 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 bill.
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.
Reynolds changed her mind and voted in
favor of the bill after a compromise amendment that draws a
distinction between civil and religious marriage was added on the
One Democrat, Senator Lou D'Allesandro
from Manchester, joined Republicans in voting against the measure.
If passed, New Hampshire would become
the fifth state to legalize gay marriage. Gay marriage is legal in
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa.