Many feared that New Hampshire would become the first in history to take marriage rights away from its LGBT citizens. And yet, it’s been almost a week since New Hampshire legislators voted to keep marriage equality on the books, and thousands of people around the country are spreading the word in celebration—especially the nearly 2,000 couples who were married under New Hampshire’s marriage equality law which passed in 2009.
Had the marriage equality law been repealed, the new law would have reinstated the state’s previous civil union law for same-sex partners. The repeal sought to create three types of committed New Hampshire couples: heterosexual married couples, same-sex couples who married before the repeal, and couples in civil unions who married after the repeal. Thankfully, this will not be the case!
Though Republican legislators held a 189 seat advantage over House Democrats, the final vote was 116-211 against the repeal. The same held true in the Senate, where the final vote was 133-202. One Republican representative provided insight for this incredible, and welcomed, outcome: “The Legislature has given certain rights to members of our community,” said State Rep. David Welch (R-Kingston), “and now we’re being asked to take them away.” It was something he couldn’t agree with, even though he opposed same-sex marriage in the past. “I am so proud of my fellow Republicans who understood that freedom and liberty means freedom for all of us, including the freedom to marry,” added New Hampshire Republicans for Freedom and Equality chair Sean Owen.
We thank the legislators of New Hampshire who understand that equality is not a right which can be revoked. Hopefully we will see more states come to this understanding as we continue fighting for marriage equality across the country this year.