Civil unions[ edit ] Following the first same-sex marriages in Massachusetts in May , New Hampshire established a member commission to consider the question of civil recognition of same-sex relationships. The group, composed of legislators, politicians, and activists, reported its findings in November By a 7-to-4 vote it recommended modifying the State Constitution to restrict marriage to heterosexual unions, reinforcing the state's statutory definition of marriage to prevent the judiciary from finding a constitutional requirement that same-sex couples be allowed to wed.
Their report opposed as well the idea of civil unions like those recognized in Vermont in July The commission proposed instead certificates that would guarantee certain rights like hospital visitation, but no financial benefits. The certificates would be available to siblings, parents, and children as well. The commission members who dissented said it spent too much time hearings attacks on the morality of homosexuality.
The chairman, Tony Soltani, a Republican member of the state House of Representatives , said; "If we redefined marriage, we'd be tarred and feathered, but if we give them some rights, it will be accepted. Both Democratic and Republican legislators proposed legislation to grant same-sex couples greater civil rights.
The proposals ranged from allowing a couple to enter into a "contractual cohabitation," a "civil union," a "spousal union," or a same-sex marriage.
Governor John Lynch opposed same-sex marriage, but indicated that he was receptive to discussing civil unions as a means of granting certain rights to same-sex couples. The largest gathering occurred on the steps of the State House in Concord. An estimated 40 couples participated as friends, family and onlookers observed. The event drew one protester who "quietly handed out a statement calling all sex outside of heterosexual marriage a sin".
Access to medical care information and decision making; Access to proceedings and information related to partner's death, and ability to make funeral arrangements; Right to be placed in the same room in a nursing home; Health care coverage under state-regulated family plans; State pension benefits; Inheritance without a will; Ability to transfer property between partners without paying state taxes; Ability to change names by showing civil union certificate to government agencies, banks, etc.
Legal status only recognized in certain states; Unclear divorce proceedings should one or both partners move out-of-state; If partner's death occurs out-of-state, unclear whether surviving partner may obtain death certificate and claim body; Employers governed by federal laws are allowed to provide health and other benefits only to heterosexual couples on a tax-free basis, whereas same-sex couples must pay income taxes on the value of such benefits; Partners are treated as unmarried adults under more than 1, federal laws; May jeopardize a couple's ability to adopt overseas; Federal privacy laws can prohibit access to some medical care information without durable power of attorney.
Governor John Lynch had yet to take a position on the legislation   and had five days to exercise his veto. Couples who had entered into civil unions would be able to apply for a marriage license, however if they did not apply for a marriage certificate their civil unions would automatically be converted to marriages on January 1, The definition of marriage in New Hampshire is now the following: Any person who otherwise meets the eligibility requirements of this chapter may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender.
By the spring of , 1, same-sex couples had married in the state. Additionally, such persons in civil unions before January 1, were able to record their civil unions with the town or city clerk who recorded the civil union and receive a marriage license, with no additional fee or solemnization required.
A civil union entered into before January 1, , that had not been dissolved, annulled, or transformed into a marriage, was converted to a marriage on January 1, The new civil unions would not be covered by the state's anti-discrimination law and no one would be required to recognize them as the equivalent of opposite-sex marriages.
The bill's effect on same-sex marriages already performed in the state was disputed. The Nashua Telegraph termed the failure of the repeal effort in March "a shocking setback". The House defeated a series of attempts to modify the bill to attract moderate support by providing same-sex couples with an alternative to marriage.
Bates' own amendment to delay the bill's effective date until March 31 so a non-binding referendum on the issue of same-sex marriage could be held in November failed on a vote of ,  with 96 of the chamber's Republicans voting against the referendum.
If we feel the need to go to our constituents and ask them a question, we are clearly in trouble. It established that same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions are recognized by New Hampshire as valid from the date they were contracted, even if they pre-dated New Hampshire's recognition of same-sex marriage; that New Hampshire recognizes the same-sex marriages of non-residents whether or not their home jurisdiction recognizes the marriage; and allows those in civil unions in other jurisdictions to marry in New Hampshire without first dissolving their civil union.