Gay couples in New Hampshire will be able to join in civil unions starting next year under a bill Gov. John Lynch signed into law Thursday.Granted, it's not marriage, so there's still a long ways to go. But there's a couple of important points to the story that aren't blatantly obvious:
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Vermont, California, New Jersey, Maine and Washington also have laws allowing either civil unions or domestic partnerships, and Oregon will also join the list in January. Hawaii extends certain spousal rights to same-sex couples and cohabiting heterosexual pairs. Only Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to marry.
Couples entering civil unions will have the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations as married couples. Same-sex unions from other states would be recognized if they were legal in the state where they were performed.
1) This came about through the regular legislative process, not due to judicial action. The "activist judges" refrain doesn't hold water in this case.
2) This is New Hampshire, the most conservative state in New England. (Of course, New Hampshire's brand of conservatism is much more the small-government, low-taxes brand, as compared to the religiously-based cultural conservatism so common in the Deep South.)
By the way, the third anniversary of gay marriage being legal in Massachusetts was a couple of weeks ago, on May 17. Not only has the world signally failed to come to an end, but the anniversary itself passed rather quietly.