Monday, December 29, 2008

Splaine pushes for gay marriage in N.H. House

Splaine pushes for gay marriage in N.H. House

PORTSMOUTH — When legislators meet in 2009, there will be several bills to consider that deal with civil unions and gay marriage.

State Rep. Jim Splaine, D-Portsmouth, submitted a bill asking that civil unions, which are currently recognized by the state, be changed to allow marriage. State Rep. Paul McEachern, D-Portsmouth, is co-sponsoring the bill.

"The bill would essentially provide for full marriage equality," Splaine said. "I submitted the bill because I think it's important that we keep this dialogue going."

Splaine said the bill will be presented on Jan. 7 along with the other bills introduced for the session. He said then it will be scheduled for a public hearing or sent to a committee.

Splaine said that although civil unions are recognized in New Hampshire, gay marriage is not. He said a bill introduced by state Rep. David Hess, R-Hooksett, would prohibit New Hampshire from recognizing gay marriages performed in other states as civil unions here.

"I introduced — in 2006 — a civil union bill and a lot of people thought it was not a good time, but it passed in 2007," he said. "I offered an amendment to add full equality for marriage, and that didn't pass. This is my second try at getting full marriage equality."

Splaine said he thinks gay marriage will pass in the state eventually.

"It may not be in 2009, but I believe it will," Splaine said. "I put it in to continue the dialogue, because the more we talk about it, I believe people will see the fairness of full equality. Two years ago, civil unions passing opened the door and has been mostly well received. As of this weekend, there are 610 civil unions in New Hampshire."

There are several other bills on the topic of civil unions and gay marriage. Among them is the one Splaine referred to by Hess.

"It leaves civil unions here unchanged," Hess said. "I think there is a significant difference between civil unions and marriage, which is a concept of tradition recognized all over the world. I think same-sex marriage goes beyond and is not needed.

"Civil unions are not marriage, but a legal concept generated in several states. Same-sex marriage is contrary to Christian traditions and every religious concept of marriage between a man and a woman. Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron, because one of the primary functions of marriage is procreating."

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