N.H. Gay Marriage Bill Advances to Senate

The New Hampshire House voted on Thursday to send a same-sex marriage bill to the Senate.

In a 186-179 vote, the state House passed a measure that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Gov. John Lynch would not say whether he will veto the legislation, but has stated that he opposes gay marriage.

New Hampshire legalized civil unions in 2007, giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples in marriages.

The vote comes as Vermont has also advanced a similar bill to the state House. Although the House is expected to pass the measure, Gov. Jim Douglas said this week he will veto it if it reaches his desk.

Gay rights advocates in Hawaii, meanwhile, have failed to push forward the legalization of same-sex civil unions.

The Hawaii Senate rejected on Wednesday an effort to force a vote on a measure that would give same-sex partners who enter into civil unions the same rights, benefits and responsibilities under state law as married couples, as reported by The Associated Press. The bill would also recognize civil unions, domestic partnerships and same-sex marriages performed in other states as civil unions in Hawaii.

Dennis Arakaki, executive director of the Hawaii Family Forum, praised the decision, saying, "It affirms the will of the people. Senators realized the impact of this issue. They may have been looking for rationale of how they could either avoid the issue or put it to bed," according to AP.

Last month, Hawaii Family Forum organized a rally at Hawaii State Capitol that drew thousands of people in protest of the civil unions bill and in affirmation of traditional marriage.

"We are here in the spirit of love, compassion, and grace," Arakaki said, according to AP. "But we are also here armed with the sword of truth."

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