"In the past weeks and months, I have spoken with lawmakers, religious leaders and citizens. My office has received thousands of phone calls, letters and emails. I have studied our current marriage and civil union laws, the laws of other states, the bills recently passed by the legislature and our history and traditions.
"Two years ago, we passed civil unions legislation here in New Hampshire. That law gave same-sex couples in civil unions the same rights and protections as marriage. And in typical New Hampshire fashion, the people of this state embraced civil unions and agreed we needed to continue our tradition of opposing discrimination.
"At its core, HB 436 simply changes the term 'civil union' to 'civil marriage.' Given the cultural, historical and religious significance of the word marriage, this is a meaningful change.
"I have heard, and I understand, the very real feelings of same-sex couples that a separate system is not an equal system. That a civil law that differentiates between their committed relationships and those of heterosexual couples undermines both their dignity and the legitimacy of their families.
"I have also heard, and I understand, the concerns of our citizens who have equally deep feelings and genuine religious beliefs about marriage. They fear that this legislation would interfere with the ability of religious groups to freely practice their faiths.
"Throughout history, our society's views of civil rights have constantly evolved and expanded. New Hampshire's great tradition has always been to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections.
"That is what I believe we must do today.
The only catch is that he wants more protections for religious groups, similar to those seen in Vermont and Connecticut's marriage laws (e.g., you can't sue a church organist if they don't want to play at your wedding).
This is fine, except that to make these modifications requires another bill to go through the legislature. The same legislature which barely passed the first marriage bill. All of NOM's money will now, I am guessing, be directed to the NH Senate, where the first marriage bill so barely passed (at 13-11)1. If these modifications are not passed, then the governor will veto. For those of you following at home:
House Bill 436 is the marriage bill, passed by the full legislature, which has not yet reached Lynch's desk.
House Bill 310 is a modification/clarification of that bill, also passed by the full legislature, also soon to reach Lynch's desk.
House Bill 73 is an unrelated bill already in play that relates to various marriage statutes - the protections the governor has asked for could be written into this bill.
It is my hope, that since HB 73 is creating more religious protections, that it will pass with greater margins in both the House and Senate regardless of how much money NOM pours into things.
If this is true, all three bills could be on Lynch's desk as early as next week.
1. Also, remember that "new poll data" that came out showing the majority of New Hampshire voters as against equal marriage? The one that claimed they surveyed every household in NH? Bullshit!
2. Also, huge shoutout to orbitalmechanic, from whom I heard this first. I was out on the town, and not on email to get the news until later. Is it insane that I'm thinking of letting twitter pipe into my phone just so I can get marriage updates in realtime? Because I totally am.