Same-sex sexual activity is legal in New Hampshire, and the state has offered civil unions since January 1, 2008. Civil unions offer the same protections in-state as marriages, but not the federal benefits of marriage. Same-sex marriage in New Hampshire has been legally allowed since January 1, 2010, and one year later civil unions expired and were converted to marriages.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity Edit

Legislation against sodomy was repealed in June 1975 along with other reforms.[1] The age of consent in New Hampshire is set at 16, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. The age of consent is 18 for relationships in which one party is under the care, guardianship or authority of the other.[2][3]

Recognition of same-sex relationshipsEdit

Same-sex marriage in New Hampshire has been legally allowed since January 1, 2010. Civil unions expired and all civil unions were converted to marriage on January 1, 2011.

Civil unionsEdit

In the past, only civil unions were available to same-sex couples in New Hampshire. On April 4, 2007, the NH House passed a civil unions bill HB437 with a vote of 243 to 129 which, if the bill were made law, would imbue partners in same-sex civil unions with the same "rights, responsibilities and obligations" as heterosexual couples in marriages.[4] On April 26, 2007, the NH State Senate approved the civil unions bill 14-10 along political party lines.[5]

NH Governor John Lynch, who opposes same-sex marriage but indicated that he was receptive to discussing civil unions as a means of granting certain rights to same-sex couples,[6] signed the bill into law on May 31, 2007, making New Hampshire "...the first state to embrace same-sex unions without a court order or the threat of one."[7] The law has been in effect since January 1, 2008.

As of mid-May 2008, over 300 same-sex couples have formed a New Hampshire civil union.[8]

Same-sex marriage Edit

Since January 1, 2010, New Hampshire has allowed same-sex couples to marry.[9] The law sets age minimums for participants in same-sex marriages that are different from those for opposite-sex marriage:[10]

No male below the age of 14 years and no female below the age of 13 years shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage that is entered into by one male and one female, and all marriages contracted by such persons shall be null and void. No male below the age of 18 and no female below the age of 18 shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage between persons of the same gender, and all marriages contracted by such persons shall be null and void.

Legislative historyEdit

On July 1, 1987 both same-sex marriages and incest marriages became legally banned by adding "or any other male" in 457:1 Marriages Prohibited; Men and "or any other female" in 457:2 Marriages Prohibited; Women which was added to the following provisions within New Hampshire statutes called TITLE XLIII DOMESTIC RELATIONS CHAPTER 457 MARRIAGES Relationship

Since January 1, 2008, state law recognized same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions as civil unions, provided that the relationship does not violate the prohibitions of New Hampshire's civil unions law.[11]

On March 18, 2009, the New Hampshire House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted in a deadlocked vote 10-10 to send a same-sex marriage bill to the floor of the state's House of Representatives. The tied committee vote automatically stipulated a vote on the bill before the full House, but the Committee was not permitted to issue a recommendation on the bill as a result.

On March 26, 2009, the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a same sex marriage bill. In the first vote the bill was failed on a 182-183 vote, but after the first vote, several representatives changed their minds under a motion to reconsider, and the bill passed 186-179.[12][13]

On April 23, 2009, the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 3-2 recommended that the full senate defeat the bill.

On April 29, 2009, the Senate approved an amended version of the bill 13-11.[14]

On May 14, 2009, Governor John Lynch said he would sign the same-sex marriage bill with some minor adjustments to the bill that do not require religious groups to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.[15]

On June 3, 2009, these adjustments were passed by the House and Senate as part of a companion bill,[16] and the Governor signed the legislation into law shortly thereafter.[9]

A UCLA study 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 will result in a net gain of approximately $500,000 each year for the State.[17] 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.

Adoption and family planningEdit

See also: LGBT parenting

New Hampshire law allows a person, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, to adopt. A law banning adoptions by gay parents was repealed in 1999.[18][19]

A 1987 state Supreme Court ruling by Justice David Souter stated that adoption laws are designed to give children one home "that is unified and stable." Judicial interpretations of this ruling and state laws have varied from county to county. Since 1999, all of New Hampshire's ten counties allow adoption provided the adoptive couple or individual is stable and can care for children. A complete criminal record check is required.

New Hampshire law allows any woman to undergo donor insemination. State law allows both married couples and those in civil unions to enter into contractual agreements regarding surrogacy, if all contracting parties are at least 21 years of age and follow the rules set forth in the state statutes.[20][21]

Discrimination protectionsEdit

Since 1998, New Hampshire law protects individuals from discrimination based only on sexual orientation[22][23][24] in:

  • Accommodations
  • Housing
  • Both private and public employment

There no laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. In 2009, House Bill 415 to add "gender identity" to the statute's categories passed the House by a vote of 188-187,[25] but was killed by the Senate three weeks later by a vote of 24-0.[26]

Hate crimes lawsEdit

Since 1991, New Hampshire law covers hate crimes based on sexual orientation.[27][28] There are currently no laws prohibiting hate crimes on an individuals gender identity.

Gender identity/expressionEdit

See also: Legal aspects of transsexualism

Under New Hampshire law, individuals who have undergone sex reassignment surgery will be issued new birth certificates.[21][29]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. William N. Eskridge, Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 (NY: Penguin Group, 2008), 201n, available online, accessed April 9, 2011
  2. Title LXII of the NH Criminal Code: Chapter 632-A:3, Sexual Assault and Related Offenses
  3. Title LXII of the NH Criminal Code: Chapter 632-A:2, Sexual Assault and Related Offenses
  4. Moskowitz, Eric. (5 April 2007) N.H. House passes civil unions Concord Monitor. Accessed 11 April 2007.
  5. Wang, Beverley. (26 April 2007) State Senate approves civil unions for same-sex couples Concord Monitor. Accessed 26 April 2007.
  6. Liebowitz, Sarah. (5 March 2007) Gay unions could gain support Concord Monitor. Accessed 11 April 2007.
  7. AP. (31 May 2007) Lynch signs bill legalizing civil unions. Concord Monitor. Accessed 31 May 2007.
  8. AP. (16 May 2008) NH gay rights advocates react to CA legalizing gay marriage New Hampshire Union Leader. Accessed 16 May 2008.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Same-sex marriage becomes law in NH
  11. (4 April 2007) House Bill: 437-FN-LOCAL New Hampshire General Court (State Legislature). Accessed 29 August 2007.
  12. House Approves Same-Sex Marriage After Bill Initially Fails WMUR
  13. New Hampshire Takes Step Closer to Approving Same-Sex Marriage
  14. Gay Marriage Could Come to N.H. New York Times
  15. New Hampshire governor says he'll sign gay marriage bill -- if changes are made
  16. HB73
  17. The Impact on New Hampshire's Budget of Allowing Same-Sex Couples to Marry
  18. HB 90
  19. Associated Press. (10 April 2006) Gay adoption policies vary by county in N.H The Boston Globe. Accessed 24 April 2007.
  20. Title XII: Chapter 168-B: Surrogacy NH RSA. Accessed 3 February 2007.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Human Rights Campaign. New Hampshire State Laws Human Rights Campaign. Accessed 24 April 2007.
  22. HB 421
  23. New Hampshire Chief Signs Gay Rights Bill
  24. HRC
  25. HRC
  26. HRC
  27. HB 1299 - Bill Text
  28. Docket of HB1299
  29. New Hampshire State Statute RSA 5-C:87. Accessed 14 December 2008.

External links Edit

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Same-sex unions in the United States

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