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New Hampshire versus Hawaii, Marriage Equality and Civil Unions

photo: afagen via Flickr

Back in January I wrote a diary about efforts underway to repeal New Hampshire’s Marriage Equality law. New Hampshire had legislatively passed Marriage Equality in June of 2009, effective starting in January 2010. New Hampshire had previously passed a Civil Unions Law in April 2007. One of the provisions of the NH Marriage Equality Law was that existing Civil Unions in NH would automatically convert to Marriages January 1, 2011. As of my diary in January, this meant there were roughly 1500 loving, committed families that would be impacted by the now Republican NH legislature’s attempts to repeal Marriage Equality.

Yesterday, the New Hampshire House of Representatives held hearings on the proposed repeal.

More than 650 people turned out for the public hearing on the three bills, the vast majority opposed to repealing the law approved when Democrats controlled the Legislature.

House leadership and the bills’ prime sponsors want the bills held until next session so lawmakers can focus on the budget and other financial issues this session.”House Republican leadership made clear their main priority is to restore fiscal responsibility to New Hampshire by balancing the budget, creating a business-friendly environment, job creation and tax relief,” said Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, the prime sponsor of HB 437 to repeal the law. “House leadership made it clear that next year this legislation will be a priority. I have been assured by leadership I will have their full support when this come forth next year.”

But opponents of the bill told the House Judiciary Committee they would return next year or the year after if need be. Former Rep. Ed Butler of Hart’s Location said “We’ll be back here every year we have to be as long as marriage equality is an issue.”

Polling conducted in late January 2011 and early February 2011 shows New Hampshire residents support keeping Marriage Equality 62% to 29% with a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.  . . .

Hawaii has now passed a Civil Unions Law and Governor Neil Abercrombie has set a signing ceremony for next Thursday (February 24, 2011). Hawaii had earlier passed Civil Union Laws that were vetoed by the prior Republican governor, Linda Lingle:

On Tuesday, Hawaii’s outgoing Republican governor Linda Lingle chose to veto HB 444 a civil unions bill that had been hailed by supporters as historic in that it would have granted same-sex couples essentially the same state level rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage.

What a difference a new governor makes as Governor Abercrombie is quoted:

After the Senate vote, Abercrombie said civil unions “respect our diversity, protect people’s privacy, and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha.”

“This has been an emotional process for everyone involved, but that process is now ended,” he said. “Everyone has been heard; all points of view respected.

“For me, this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii.”

Civil Rights and equality of opportunity is a long term process and it will be a constant fight to avoid losing hard won rights. In New Hampshire (and Iowa), the fight is to maintain the equality. Hawaii is making the steps towards equality for all.

I have been fortunate to live in both New Hampshire and Hawaii over the years. I have known many good people in both states and still have friends in both. If you have family or friends in New Hampshire, please make sure you contact them and request they support the keeping of the Marriage Equality laws and contact their local representatives to make sure they are aware of that support. If you have family or friends in Hawaii, please make sure you contact them and tell them how positive it is for Hawaii to be making the journey towards equality for all.

And because I can:

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Small town Kentucky country boy lived all over the country. Currently in Ruskin, FL