CONCORD, N.H. — A New Hampshire state House subcommittee on Wednesday endorsed a bill that would repeal the state’s marriage equality law, and substitute same-sex marriage with a form of civil unions for both gay and heterosexuals couples.
Following a 3-1 vote to amend House Bill 437 — which would have banned both gay marriage and civil unions in the state completely — the House Judiciary subcommittee voted to send the bill to the full committee recommending its passage.
Currently, New Hampshire is one of only six states that allow same-sex couples to marry.
But under the language approved in the amended bill, marriage would be preserved for same-sex couples already married under the current law, but once it takes affect, would once again be permitted between heterosexual couples only.
The bill allows a form of civil union that has never existed in the state, open to any two persons. It also contains language that allows any business, individual, school or association to refuse to recognize civil unions, exempting them from state laws that bar discrimination on housing, employment, contracts and grants.
Rep. Gregory Sorg, R-Easton, a co-sponsor of the bill and the amendment, said gay marriage will cause harm to society over time, even if it is not evident now.
“Some societal changes take generations to manifest themselves,” he argued.
Gay marriage proponents criticized the bill. Standing up for New Hampshire Families spokesman Tyler Deaton called the language in the bill “pernicious … It goes out of its way to employ discriminatory language.”
Even if the full committee approves the measure, the full House can not vote on the bill until 2012.