New Hampshire is expected to become the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage after the legislature makes revisions to a bill to increase legal protections for religious institutions.
Gov. John Lynch said Thursday that he will sign the bill, which has already been approved by the House and Senate, if the language is revised to better protect churches and religious groups against lawsuits if they do not perform marriages for gay and lesbian couples.
He will veto it if the provisions are not passed in the legislature, he said.
"We can and must treat both same-sex couples and people of certain religious traditions with respect and dignity," Lynch stressed. "I believe this proposed language will accomplish both of these goals and I urge the Legislature to pass it."
Legislative leaders immediately said they would adopt the changes.
Advocates of same-sex marriage also backed Lynch's proposal.
"This is language we can support," said Mo Baxley, executive director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, according to The Boston Globe.
Traditional marriage supporters, however, are disappointed in Lynch.
Kevin Smith, director of Cornerstone Policy Research, called the governor's proposal a "smoke screen-religious-liberty-amendment cover to change his mind," according to the Concord Monitor.
"There are people with very deeply held convictions on this issue who are now going to have their conscience violated," Smith said, as reported by the Monitor. Lynch's qualification "seems like a rather disingenuous attempt on the part of the governor to try and couch his actions today and say it's some sort of compromise. It isn't."
While a supporter of traditional marriage, Lynch said he decided to view the issue "through a broader lens," as reported by The Associated Press.