The New Hampshire House and Senate are
scheduled to vote on an amended gay marriage bill today, leaving the
possibility that Governor John Lynch may sign the bill into law this
evening or Thursday.
The Legislature has already approved a
gay marriage bill and an amended version that corrected omissions
found in the original.
Lynch announced last week that he would
sign the bill if the Legislature carved out broader religious
exceptions for churches and their employees.
Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee
approved the alterations in a 3 to 2 vote.
Gay marriage opponents, displeased with
the governor's decision, claim the Democratic governor has broken his
promise. Lynch sided with opponents on the issue, saying he believed
marriage is between a man and a woman, but kept quiet on whether he
would veto the bill.
At Tuesday's hearing, opponents called
the new exceptions window dressing, arguing they do little to
alleviate the concerns of private business and individuals whose
religious beliefs deserve to be protected. They advocated for vendor
protections that allow businesses such as florists and wedding
photographers to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples based
on their religious beliefs.
The new bill, however, stopped short of
providing such protections.
If the Legislature and governor approve
the amended bill, New Hampshire would become the sixth state to
legalize gay marriage and the fifth New England state.