A vote in New Hampshire yesterday had a tentative pro gay marriage result. A constitutional amendment had been proposed which would ban same sex marriage specifically in the state’s Bill of Rights. It was defeated by 207 votes to 125.
Senator Jack Raymond, an opponent of gay marriage said that he would respect the views of the house and not pursue a similar amendment in the State Senate. “The people is the third rail in politics” he said, “and obviously the people that voted against it didn’t want it to hit the third rail.”
Same sex civil unions are not permitted in New Hampshire, and the State does not recognise same sex marriages and civil unions that have taken place outside the State. The amendment to the Bill of Rights hoped to make it harder for these more liberal laws to be passed at some point in the future. The failure of the amendment might therefore be indicative of a tide turn of opinion and tolerance.
In January, a Baltimore judge ruled that a law against gay marriage violates the Maryland Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights. Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) have also brought cases to court in Connecticut, where senior attorney Ben Klein argued that allowing same sex couples “civil partnerships” but not “marriage” was a breach of their constitutional rights. Klein said that the law was “nothing less than the government’s announcement that these are second-class citizens”.
As 8 gay couples in Connecticut go to court to argue for their right to marriage, people in New Hampshire will be watching closely for the outcome. Same sex civil partnerships or marriages might not be on the agenda in New Hampshire, but yesterdays vote ensures that the debate is firmly on the table.