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LBGT Advocates Praise Bill to Strengthen Marriage Equality, Make Family Court Laws Gender Neutral

 New law recognizes all civil unions and same-sex marriages from date of solemnization, retroactively affirms that out-of-state same-sex couples can marry in New Hampshire, and makes family court laws gender neutral

Concord, NH – Governor Maggie Hassan ceremoniously signed into law today SB 394, a bipartisan measure relative to the recognition of out of state marriages, uniform marriage recognition law, civil union recognition, and gender neutral references. SB 394 clarifies New Hampshire’s marriage equality law to ensure that all married couples in New Hampshire receive the fair and equal treatment under the law that they deserve.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“We know that New Hampshire is on the right side of history when it comes to marriage equality, and this law clarifies that we are a welcoming state whether you live here, visit here, or marry here. We praise Governor Hassan, Senator Lasky, and the entire New Hampshire legislature for their bipartisan commitment to continuing to secure equal rights for LGBT families. SB 394 establishes that all civil unions and same-sex marriages, whether conducted in New Hampshire or elsewhere, will be recognized from the date of solemnization. It retroactively affirms that same-sex couples who marry in New Hampshire from out of state are legally allowed to do so, by changing an old law which stated that you could not marry here if your home state did not recognize your marriage. Doing so extends recognition of the marriage by the federal government for some purposes, even if the couple’s home state does not yet recognize marriage equality. SB 394 also directs family courts to read statutes in a gender neutral manner, a clarification which will provide same-sex couples and their families with the same protections other families already enjoy. Granite State Progress is proud to have worked with Senator Lasky to bring this bill forward, and we are thankful for the support of the legislature for its passage.”

In attendance at the signing were Beverly Youree and Carol Nepton of Manchester. The grandparents of five entered into a VT civil union in 2002, yet were shocked that even after New Hampshire passed marriage equality, they could not get married in their home state without dissolving their civil union first. Instead of face that legal uncertainty, they instead chose to marry in VT in 2010. Under this new law, same-sex couples will no longer have to face that choice. Also in attendance was Tracy Barbour of Salem. Tracy entered into a VT civil union with her ex-partner in 2002. They then had a son together in 2003 and married in Massachusetts in 2004. However, despite being a parent in every meaning of that word, the family court refused to see her as such after she filed for divorce in 2013. Tracy has not seen her son in almost two years. This law establishes that parents like Tracy should be treated as an equal parent and gives Tracy hope that she might see her son again.

Other Statements from the Ceremonial Signing

Janson Wu, Legal Attorney, GLAD: “GLAD thanks Sen. Lasky and her co-sponsors for their continued work to advance equal rights for all Granite State families, and for the support of the New Hampshire state legislature to ensure gay and lesbian couples and their families receive full rights under the law. New Hampshire is a strong supporter of marriage equality and equal rights, and we are proud to stand with these legislative champions and Governor Maggie Hassan – someone who has continually fought for LGBT rights throughout her years of public service – as the Governor signs this landmark bill into law.”

Senator Bette Lasky, Prime Sponsor: “I was proud to be an early and constant supporter for marriage equality in our state, and I am honored to sponsor bills that seek to provide LGBT couples and their families the same protections under the law as other families. SB 394 is a bipartisan measure that ensures full recognition of civil unions and marriages for same-sex couples. It clarifies lingering questions and old laws that have jeopardized the full implementation of marriage equality in our state. This law makes these rights clear, and by doing so we are ensuring same-sex families have the same rights and protections that other families in our state already receive.”

Governor Maggie Hassan (previously released statement on SB 394 signing): “As the number of states with marriage equality continues to rise and courts across the country issue rulings that advance the cause of equality, it is critical that the law in New Hampshire works for all legally married couples who have moved or are seeking to move here. By clarifying our marriage equality law to recognize an out-of-state marriage or civil union as of the date it was legally contracted, SB 394 helps ensure that all married couples in New Hampshire receive the fair and equal treatment under the law that they deserve. Marriage equality in New Hampshire signals to everyone that we are a welcoming state. Granite Staters understand that encouraging and supporting strong marriages for all loving couples strengthens our families and our communities. I thank the bipartisan group of legislators, including all 24 members of the Senate, for passing this common-sense measure, and I am proud to reinforce New Hampshire’s status as a leader in the march toward full marriage equality and inclusion by signing SB 394 into law.”

SB 394 was co-sponsored by Sen. Bette Lasky (Nashua), Sen. Jeff Woodburn (Dalton), Sen. David Watters (Dover), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (Portsmouth), Sen. John Reagan (Deerfield), Rep. Lucy Weber (Walpole), Rep. Paul Hackel (Nashua), and Rep. Marjorie Smith (Durham). It took effect starting on July 10, 2014.

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About Granite State Progress

Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.
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