Friday, April 27, 2007

New Hampshire Civil Union Bill Clears Last Hurdle

The New Hampshire Senate yesterday passed a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to enter into civil unions less than a month after the House overwhelmingly endorsed the same legislation.

Governor John Lynch said last week he would sign the bill into law as "a matter of conscience, fairness and preventing discrimination." Presidential candidates who have already inundated the state in advance of the first primary early next year have also taken note. Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards was among the candidates who issued statements in support of the bill.

"Gov. Lynch and the state of New Hampshire showed us that the idea of America -- fairness, justice and equal opportunity -- can become a reality when we have the courage to stand up for what is right," Edwards said. "New Hampshire's decision tor recognize civil unions and grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights granted to heterosexual married couples is an important step in the fight for justice. This is an issue of fundamental fairness, and by passing this law, New Hampshire's leaders chose fairness over discrimination."

Civil unions are not the same as marriage for same-sex couples but the bill certainly represents a significant step forward. The conservative Union Leader and the handful of other vocal groups, institutions and politicians who oppose the bill will certainly continue to express their opposition at the expense of many others in the state who support it. New Hampshire has a strong libertarian tradition based on limited government involvement in the private lives of its residents. This bill only continues that proud tradition in the Granite State.

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