Contrary to expectations, New Hampshire lawmakers have rejected a bill that would have recognized same-sex “marriages” contracted in the state. The fate of the bill remains uncertain, especially since lawmakers decided not to include protections for religious groups that the state's governor said must be included to avoid his veto.
Though the state Senate passed the bill in a party line vote of 14-10, the state’s Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted down the bill 188 to 186.
An earlier version of the bill had passed the House on March 26, Reuters reports.
Democratic Gov. John Lynch had added wording to the bill that would give legal protections, including the right to decline to “marry” same-sex couples, to clergy and others affiliated with religious organizations.
The governor has said he would veto the bill if the wording is not adopted.
The bill now passes to a committee that will try to resolve the differences between the two chambers.
State Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a homosexual Republican from Manchester, opposed the religious freedom amendment. He argued the amended bill allowed discrimination to be written into state law.
According to Reuters, other House Republicans said they voted against the bill because the process did not fairly give a voice to every citizen who wanted to speak on the issue.
In a May 7 statement, Bishop of Manchester John B. McCormack opposed the first version of the bill, saying "We believe that we should be doing all we can as a society to support and protect marriage, which is a union of a man and woman and has been throughout history."
He said the bill would "redefine marriage on the run" with the "slimmest of legislative margins." The New Hampshire bishop also emphasized the need to secure religious liberties. He warned "unintended consequences" of the proposal would lead to "unnecessary confusion, litigation and denial of rights to many people in our state."