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Friday, April 27, 2007

New Hampshire Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions

By Anthony Cuesta

New Hampshire lawmakers approved civil unions for same-sex couples Thursday, becoming the fourth state in the nation to extend legal rights to gay and lesbian partners.

“This legislation is a matter of conscience, fairness and of preventing discrimination,” said governor's spokesman Colin Manning, reports the Associated Press. “It is in keeping with New Hampshire's proud tradition of preventing discrimination.”

According to Reuters, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted 14-10 along party lines to give gay and lesbians nearly the same rights as married couples. The bill sailed through the House of Representatives on April 4, and Democratic Gov. John Lynch said last week he would sign it.

One of the state's best-known gay residents told the AP he would use it.

“My partner and I look forward to taking full advantage of the new law,” said Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, whose 2003 consecration shook up the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Union of which it is part, reports the AP.

New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont already offer civil unions for gay couples. Neighboring Massachusetts in 2004 became the only state to allow gay marriage.

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