May 20, 2009
 
Senate Approves Same-Sex Marriage Amendment


CONCORD - The New Hampshire Senate yesterday approved an amendment to the same-sex marriage bill, sending it to the House for consideration later in the day.

The amendment was proposed by Gov. John Lynch, who said he would sign the bill into law if there were more protections for religious institutions that did not want to participate in same-sex marriages.

The 14-10 party-line vote in the Senate accepted Lynch's proposed language. If the House also approves the amendment, the governor could have the bill on his desk as early as Wednesday afternoon. The House previously passed the same-sex marriage bill 178-167.

Critics have said that the amendment reflects religious protections already guaranteed on the state and federal constitutions and that the bill would not protect other businesses that don't want to participate in same-sex marriages.

Supporters argued that the bill should not be written to allow discrimination.

"The language that will be added to the marriage equality bill strikes a clear and strong balance between our core values of supporting equality for all while at the same time protecting our First Amendment rights of freedom of religion," said Sen. Deborah Reynolds, D-District 2.

Republicans argued that the amendment and the bill itself are wrong. Sen. Jack Barnes, R-District 17, also said not enough time had been given to consider the consequences of the bill.

"I don't know why this thing is in such a rush and why it hasn't had more attention put to it," Barnes said.

The House was expected to pick up the bill at about 1:30 p.m. today.




 

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