The only openly gay bishop in the Anglican communion has spoken in favour of same-sex marriage.

Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, was giving evidence before the state’s legislature. 

It is considering a bill that would legalise gay and lesbian marriages.

“Ladies and gentleman of the Judiciary Committee, don’t let the religious opponents to marriage equality you will hear from today and in the days to come make you afraid to do what is right,” he said.

Since 2008 same-sex couples may enter into a New Hampshire civil union, as long as both parties are at least 18, not a party to another civil union or a marriage and not closely related by blood to their civil partner.

Bishop Robinson joined with his partner Mark Andrew in June last year, one of 600 couples to do so.

Civil unions only provide 400 of the 1100 rights and protections that heterosexual marriage offers.

The state Legislature is considering gay marriage.

A Democratic state Senator stood up for his two gay children at the hearing.

“It’s painful for us to know that our gay children are treated differently from our straight children,” Harold Janeway said.

Gay marriage is legal in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

It was legal in California from June 2008 until November, when voters approved Proposition 8, denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Prop 8 is being challenged in the courts.