NEW HAMPSHIRE – At 12:00 a.m. EST many couples shared the joy of greeting 2010 with kisses and clinks of champagne glasses, but some in New Hampshire were celebrating with the same customs for additional reasons. The Granite State has joined Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont as the 5th state to allow for marriage equality.
The Freedom to Marry Coalition and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation hosted celebrations on New Year’s Eve in anticipation of the new law taking effect at midnight, and the first marriage took place within the minutes that followed the arrival of the New Year.
In June Governor John Lynch (D) signed the bill into law after negotiating with state legislators about an amendment that would exempt churches and other religious institutions from being compelled to participate in marriages that are at odds with the tenets of their religion.
Many same sex couples have already applied for marriage licences in New Hampshire. The state previously allowed for civil unions, and those unions will automatically become marriages under the new law in 2011 if the couples do no apply for a marriage licence to officially amend their civil union in 2010.