A gay marriage bill that includes the
religious protections sought by Governor John Lynch is expected to
return for debate next week in the New Hampshire Legislature.
Senators agreed on Wednesday to
negotiate a compromise with the House on the bill, opening the
possibility of a return to debate on the issue as early as June 3.
Legislature passed a final gay marriage bill earlier this month.
Governor Lynch surprised supporters on both sides by agreeing to sign
the bill into law so long as lawmakers strengthened language that
protected churches and their workers.
Opponents howled, calling Lynch a
turncoat; they said he had broken his promise to protect marriage.
Lynch, a Democrat, had previously said
he believed marriage was between a man and a woman, but refused to
comment on whether he would veto the bill.
Last week, senators approved a gay
marriage bill that included the new religious protections but House
members balked at the idea, defeating the bill along a thin 188 to
186 vote. House lawmakers refused to kill the bill for the session
and voted 207 to 168 to ask the Senate for a compromise.
Democratic senators also defeated
another attempt on Wednesday by Republican senators to put the
question before voters in a nonbinding referendum.