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Civil unions in New Hampshire

Civil unions in New Hampshire

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Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

became legal in the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

on January 1, 2010, replacing civil union
Civil union
A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage. Beginning with Denmark in 1989, civil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples rights,...

s.
On January 1, 2011, all civil unions in the state became marriages unless otherwise dissolved, annulled or previously converted to marriage.

On January 1, 2008, civil unions became legal in the state.
Legislation for same-sex marriage was signed into law by the governor on June 3, 2009, making New Hampshire the fifth state to legalize same-sex marriage.
New Hampshire was one of a series of states
Same-sex marriage in New England
Same-sex marriage is legal or has been legalized in four of the six New England states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The New England region has been noted for being the nucleus of the same-sex marriage movement in the United States, with the region having among the most...

 in 2009 to legalize same-sex marriage in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

.

Civil unions


After the 2006 general election
United States general elections, 2006
The 2006 United States midterm elections were held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006. All United States House of Representatives seats and one third of the United States Senate seats were contested in this election, as well as 36 state governorships, many state legislatures, four territorial...

, when Democrats became the majority party of the New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

 state legislature
New Hampshire General Court
The General Court of New Hampshire is the bicameral state legislature of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. The lower house is the New Hampshire House of Representatives with 400 members. The upper house is the New Hampshire Senate with 24 members...

, several bills were considered which would grant same-sex couples greater civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 in the state. Proposals were made by both Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 and Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 politicians. The various proposals ranged from allowing couples to enter into a "contractual cohabitation," a "civil union," a "spousal union," or a same-sex marriage. Governor John Lynch opposed same-sex marriage, but did, through various spokespersons, indicate that he was receptive to discussing civil unions as a means of granting certain rights to same-sex couples.

On April 4, 2007, the New Hampshire House passed a civil unions bill, HB437, with a vote of 243 to 129, to give partners in same-sex civil unions the same "rights, responsibilities and obligations" as heterosexual couples in marriages. Lynch stated on April 19, 2007 that he would sign legislation granting civil unions to same-sex couples because he believes "...it is a matter of conscience, fairness and preventing discrimination." On April 26, 2007, the New Hampshire Senate
New Hampshire Senate
The New Hampshire Senate has been meeting since 1784. It is the upper house of the New Hampshire General Court. It consists of 24 members representing Senate districts based on population...

 approved the civil unions bill 14-10 along political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 lines. On May 31, 2007, Governor John Lynch signed the civil unions bill into law, making New Hampshire "...the first state to embrace same-sex unions without a court order or the threat of one." The law took effect January 1, 2008.

Licenses were made available on December 10, 2007 such that civil unions could be sealed starting at 12:01 am on January 1, 2008. Deputy secretary of state David Scanlan said, "As far as we're concerned, everything is on schedule."

Civil unions took place throughout New Hampshire just after midnight on January 1, 2008. The largest gathering occurred in Concord
Concord, New Hampshire
The city of Concord is the capital of the state of New Hampshire in the United States. It is also the county seat of Merrimack County. As of the 2010 census, its population was 42,695....

, on the steps of the State House. Twenty-three couples were expected to participate in the event, however, an estimated 40 actually took part, and some 200-300 friends, family and onlookers observed. The event drew one protestor who "...quietly handed out a statement calling all sex outside of heterosexual marriage a sin..."

Under the New Hampshire civil unions law, same-sex civil unions or marriages conducted in other states will be recognized as civil unions in New Hampshire. House Bill 1415 was introduced by Representative Maureen Mooney to repeal this portion of the current civil unions bill and was ultimately deemed inexpedient to legislate.

At the end of 2008, after one year of legal recognition of same-sex civil unions in New Hampshire, approximately 600 civil unions licenses have been issued by the state, while approximately 8,700 marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 licenses were issued by the state during the same time period.

Legal implications of civil unions


Despite the civil union law intending to provide "all the rights and subject [a couple] to all the obligations and responsibilities provided for in state law that apply to parties who are joined together," only some benefits, and some limitations, shall exist.

Benefits

  • Access to medical care information and decision making;
  • Access to proceedings and information related to partner's death, and ability to make funeral arrangements;
  • Right to be placed in the same room in a nursing home;
  • Health care coverage under state-regulated family plans;
  • State pension benefits;
  • Inheritance without a will;
  • Ability to transfer property between partners without paying state taxes;
  • Ability to change names by showing civil union certificate to government agencies, banks, etc. and simply stating a name preference;
  • Pay or receive alimony and/or child support ordered by a court in a divorce;
  • Ability to adopt as a stepparent.

Limitations

  • Legal status only recognized in certain states;
  • Unclear divorce proceedings should one or both partners move out-of-state;
  • If partner's death occurs out-of-state, unclear whether surviving partner may obtain death certificate and claim body;
  • Employers governed by federal laws are allowed to provide health and other benefits only to heterosexual couples on a tax-free basis, whereas same-sex couples must pay income taxes on the value of such benefits (note: New Hampshire does not levy income tax);
  • Partners are treated as unmarried adults under more than 1,100 federal laws;
  • May jeopardize a couple's ability to adopt overseas;
  • Federal privacy laws can prohibit access to some medical care information without durable power of attorney.

Marriage


On March 18, 2009, the New Hampshire House of Representatives
New Hampshire House of Representatives
The New Hampshire House of Representatives is the lower house in the New Hampshire General Court. The House of Representatives consists of 400 members coming from 103 districts across the state, created from divisions of the state's counties. On average, each legislator represents about 3,300...

 Judiciary Committee voted in a deadlocked vote 10-10 to send a same-sex marriage bill, HB 436, to the floor of the House of Representatives. The tied committee vote resulted in the Committee not being permitted to issue a recommendation on the bill. On March 26, 2009, the New Hampshire House of Representatives
New Hampshire House of Representatives
The New Hampshire House of Representatives is the lower house in the New Hampshire General Court. The House of Representatives consists of 400 members coming from 103 districts across the state, created from divisions of the state's counties. On average, each legislator represents about 3,300...

 voted 182-183, but after a motion to reconsider the first vote, the vote was 186-179. On Thursday, April 23, 2009, the New Hampshire Senate
New Hampshire Senate
The New Hampshire Senate has been meeting since 1784. It is the upper house of the New Hampshire General Court. It consists of 24 members representing Senate districts based on population...

 Judiciary Committee by a vote of 3-2 recommended that the full Senate defeat the bill, but the following Wednesday, the Senate approved an amended version of the bill 13-11. The amended bill then went on to pass the House, and thus the legislature, on Wednesday, May 6, 2009; however, it was not clear whether Gov. John Lynch would sign it, veto it, or let it become law without his signature, and once the bill officially reached his desk, he would have five days to veto the bill before it became law. The bill recognized out-of-state civil unions as marriages. Couples who had New Hampshire Civil Unions would be able to apply for a marriage license, however if they didn't apply for a marriage certificate their civil unions would automatically be converted to marriages on January 1, 2011.

On May 14, Lynch, though being personally opposed to gay marriages, said he would sign the bill so long as it contained increased protections for churches against lawsuits if they refuse to marry gay couples. Legislative leaders indicated on the same day that they would allow the changes. On May 20, 2009, the Senate passed the changes 14-10, along party lines, but the House unexpectedly failed to agree later in the day by a vote of 188-186. Opponents tried to kill the bill, but failed 173 to 202. The House then voted 207-168 to ask the Senate to negotiate a compromise. On May 29, a compromise with some minor changes was reached, which the governor approved of, which was sent back for a vote. The new version was approved 14–10 by the Senate and 198–176 by the House, on June 3, and was signed by the Governor shortly thereafter. Lynch is the second governor in the US, the first being John Baldacci
John Baldacci
John Elias Baldacci is an American politician who served as the 73rd Governor of the U.S. state of Maine from 2003 until 2011. A Democrat, he also served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003....

 of Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

, to sign a bill allowing same-sex marriage.

New Hampshire law also recognizes foreign and out-of-state same-sex marriages.

Transition from civil unions to marriage


As of January 1, 2010, no new civil unions were established in the state. Those who entered into a valid civil union before January 1, 2010, were able to have their marriages solemnized, provided they met the legal requirements of the state marriage laws and were the same two people in the civil union. Additionally, such persons in civil unions before January 1, 2010, were able to record their civil unions with the town or city clerk who recorded the civil union and receive a marriage license, with no additional fee or solemnization required. A civil union entered into before January 1, 2010, that had not been dissolved, annulled, or merged into a marriage, was converted to a marriage on January 1, 2011.

Public opinion


The University of New Hampshire
University of New Hampshire
The University of New Hampshire is a public university in the University System of New Hampshire , United States. The main campus is in Durham, New Hampshire. An additional campus is located in Manchester. With over 15,000 students, UNH is the largest university in New Hampshire. The university is...

 Survey Center released a statewide poll taken from April 13–22, 2009 which concluded that 55% of New Hampshire residents supported same-sex marriage, while 39% percent opposed it. The Center also released a poll taken January 27-February 6, 2011 which found that 62% of New Hampshire residents opposed the new Republican-dominated legislature's efforts to repeal the 2009 law legalizing same-sex marriage, with only 29% in favor of repeal. In addition, 51% voiced strong opposition to repeal. Another poll conducted between January 30 and February 3, 2011 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research shows that 59% of New Hampshire residents support allowing same-sex couples to marry and 34% are against. The poll also found that 63% of residents oppose the bill repealing same-sex marriage, while 29% support it.

A July 2011 Public Policy Polling
Public Policy Polling
Public Policy Polling is an American Democratic Party-affiliated polling firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. PPP was founded in 2001 by businessman and Democratic pollster Dean Debnam, the firm's current president and chief executive officer...

 survey found that 51% of New Hampshire voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 38% thought it should be illegal and 11% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 80% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 45% supporting same-sex marriage and 35% supporting civil unions, while only 19% thought that there should be no legal recognition and 1% were not sure. Significantly, a majority supported marriage among demographics that are typically adverse to it. More than 65% of those who responded considered themselves to be moderate to very conservative with only 1/3 identifying as having an affiliation with the Democratic party. Over 75% of respondents were age 45 or older with nearly half being aged 45 to 65, an age group statistically less likely to support marriage. Among respondents, only 10% were under the age of 29, the statistically largest group to support marriage.

2010 Constitutional amendment proposal


There were two proposals, one a bill which would repeal same-sex marriage and the state 2007 civil union law while the other a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state. Both bills were defeated in the New Hampshire house on February 17, 2010.

Economic impact


A UCLA study from March 2009 estimates the impact of allowing same-sex couples to marry on New Hampshire’s state budget. The study concludes that allowing same-sex couples to marry, as opposed to the old civil union scheme, would result in a net gain of approximately $500,000 each year for the State. This net impact will be the result of savings in expenditures on state means-tested public benefits programs and an increase in meals and room tax revenues from increased wedding-related tourism.

Possible repeal


The New York Times reported in July 2011 that "pressure is mounting for the Legislature to take another historic step by reversing course" and repealing the law legalizing same-sex unions. On October 25, 2011, the House Judiciary Committee voted 11-6 to repeal the gay marriage law and establish civil unions. The bill will go to the full House in January or February 2012. Supporters of repeal say the bill will not nullify existing gay marriages, but opponents say there are legal issues with what they say are conflicting provisions in the repeal bill.

See also



  • LGBT rights in New Hampshire
    LGBT rights in New Hampshire
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in the U.S. state of New Hampshire only just recently have the same legal rights as non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in New Hampshire, and the state has offered civil unions since 1 January 2008. Civil unions offer the same...


Same-sex marriage
  • Same-sex marriage in New England
    Same-sex marriage in New England
    Same-sex marriage is legal or has been legalized in four of the six New England states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The New England region has been noted for being the nucleus of the same-sex marriage movement in the United States, with the region having among the most...

  • In the United States
    Same-sex marriage in the United States
    The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage in the United States, but such marriages are recognized by some individual states. The lack of federal recognition was codified in 1996 by the Defense of Marriage Act, before Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage licenses...

  • Legislation in the US
    Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States
    In response to court action in a number of states, the United States federal government and a number of state legislatures passed or attempted to pass legislation either prohibiting or allowing same-sex marriage or other types of same-sex unions.-Federal level:...

  • In the US by state
  • Public opinion
  • Status by state
    Same-sex marriage status in the United States by state
    Same-sex unions have been on the political radar in the United States since the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that denying licenses to same-sex partners violated the Hawaii constitution unless there is a "compelling state interest." Since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize...



Marriage in US
  • Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States
    Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States
    According to the United States Government Accountability Office , there are 1,138 statutory provisions in which marital status is a factor in determining benefits, rights, and privileges...

  • Defense of Marriage Act
    Defense of Marriage Act
    The Defense of Marriage Act is a United States federal law whereby the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Under the law, no U.S. state may be required to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state...

  • Marriage Protection Act of 2007
  • U.S. state constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions
  • Federal Marriage Amendment
    Federal Marriage Amendment
    The Federal Marriage Amendment H.J. Res. 56 was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution which would have limited marriage in the United States to unions of one man and one woman...

  • Domestic partnership in the United States
  • Freedom to Marry
    Freedom to Marry
    Freedom to Marry is a non-profit organization leading the campaign for same-sex marriages to be recognized nationwide in the United States of America...

  • History of civil marriage in the United States


External links