Template:Civil union Civil unions in New Hampshire exist under state law between unrelated same-sex individuals and are intended to provide the same "'rights, responsibilities and obligations' as heterosexual marriage, differing in name only." The first civil unions in New Hampshire took place after the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2008.
After the 2006 Democratic takeover of the New Hampshire state legislature, several bills were considered which would grant same-sex couples greater civil rights in the state. Proposals were made by both Democratic and Republican politicians. The various proposals ranged from allowing couples to enter into a "contractual cohabitation," a "civil union," a "spousal union," or a same-sex marriage. Governor John Lynch opposes same-sex marriage, but did, through various spokesmen, indicate that he was receptive to discussing civil unions as a means of granting certain rights to same-sex couples.
On April 4, 2007, the NH House passed a civil unions bill, HB437, with a vote of 243 to 129. The bill, if accepted into law, would imbue partners in same-sex civil unions with the same "rights, responsibilities and obligations" as heterosexual couples in marriages. Lynch stated on April 19, 2007 that he would sign legislation granting civil unions to same-sex couples because he believes "...it is a matter of conscience, fairness and preventing discrimination." On April 26, 2007, the NH Senate approved the civil unions bill 14-10 along political party lines. On May 31, 2007, Governor John Lynch signed the civil unions bill into law, making New Hampshire "...the first state to embrace same-sex unions without a court order or the threat of one." The law took effect January 1, 2008. AP. (31 May, 2007) Lynch signs bill legalizing civil unions. Concord Monitor. Accessed 31 May 2007.</ref>
Licenses were made available on December 10, 2007 such that civil unions could be sealed starting at 12:01 am on January 1, 2008. Deputy secretary of state David Scanlan said, "As far as we're concerned, everything is on schedule."
Civil unions took place throughout New Hampshire just after midnight on January 1, 2008. The largest gathering occurred in Concord, on the steps of the State House. Twenty-three couples were expected to participate in the event, however, an estimated 40 actually took part, and some 200-300 friends, family and onlookers observed. The event drew one protestor who "...quietly handed out a statement calling all sex outside of heterosexual marriage a sin..."
Under the New Hampshire civil unions law, same-sex civil unions or marriages conducted in other states will be recognized as civil unions in New Hampshire. House Bill 1415 was introduced by Representative Maureen Mooney to repeal this portion of the current civil unions bill and was ultimately deemed inexpedient to legislate.
Despite the civil union law intending to provide "all the rights and subject [a couple] to all the obligations and responsibilities provided for in state law that apply to parties who are joined together," only some benefits, and some limitations, shall exist.
- Access to medical care information and decision making;
- Access to proceedings and information related to partner's death, and ability to make funeral arrangements;
- Right to be placed in the same room in a nursing home;
- Health care coverage under state-regulated family plans;
- State pension benefits;
- Inheritance without a will;
- Ability to transfer property between partners without paying state taxes;
- Ability to change names by showing civil union certificate to government agencies, banks, etc. and simply stating a name preference;
- Pay or receive alimony and/or child support ordered by a court in a divorce;
- Ability to adopt as a stepparent.
- Legal status only recognized in certain states;
- Unclear divorce proceedings should one or both partners move out-of-state;
- If partner's death occurs out-of-state, unclear whether surviving partner may obtain death certificate and claim body;
- Entering into a civil union triggers "Don't ask, don't tell" for military personnel, and expulsion from the military;
- Employers governed by federal laws are allowed to provide health and other benefits only to heterosexual couples;
- Partners are treated as unmarried adults under more than 1,100 federal laws;
- May jeopardize a couple's ability to adopt overseas;
- Federal privacy laws can prohibit access to some medical care information without durable power of attorney.
- Moskowitz, Eric. (5 April 2007) N.H. House passes civil unions Concord Monitor. Accessed 11 April 2007.
- Robidoux, Carolyn. (1 January 2008) Civil unions ring in the New Year New Hampshire Union Leader. Accessed 1 January 2008.
- Liebowitz, Sarah. (5 March 2007) Gay unions could gain support Concord Monitor. Accessed 11 April 2007.
- AP. (19 April 2007) Lynch: NH should have civil unions New Hampshire Union Leader. Accessed 19 April 2007.
- Wang, Beverley. (26 April, 2007) State Senate approves civil unions for same-sex couples Concord Monitor. Accessed 26 April 2007.
- AP. (31 May, 2007) Lynch signs bill legalizing civil unions. Concord Monitor. Accesed 31 May 2007.
- HB 437 Bill Legislative History New Hampshire General Court. Accessed 14 February 2008.
- Fahey, Tom. (25 November 2007) State House Dome: Date set for civil union licenses New Hampshire Union Leader. Accessed 25 November 2007.
- AP. (25 November 2007) Civil unions license available by Dec. 10 Concord Monitor. Accessed 25 November 2007.
- Timmins, Annmarie. (1 January 2008) Same-sex couples say 'I Do' just after midnight Concord Monitor. Accessed 3 January 2008.
- (31 December 2007) Midnight Ceremonies Mark Civil Unions WMUR-TV. Accessed 3 January 2008.
- HB 1415 Text New Hampshire General Court. Accessed 3 January 2008.
- HB 1415 Legislative History New Hampshire General Court. Accessed 14 February 2008.
- HB 437-FN-L Text New Hampshire General Court. Accessed 3 January 2008.
- (31 December 2007) N.H. Civil Unions Have Protections, Pitfalls WMUR-TV. Accessed 3 January 2008.
- AP. (2 January 2008) Benefits and pitfalls for gay couples Concord Monitor. Accessed 3 January 2008.
- AP. (2 January 2008) N.H. same-sex unions: promise and reality Chicago Tribune. Accessed 3 January 2008.
- HB 437 Bill Text
- HB 437 Bill Legislative History
- State drops fight over benefits for same-sex couples in Concord Monitor on 8 May 2007.
- Gay couples learn that union isn't the same as marriage in Concord Monitor on 6 May 2007.
- Civil unions catching clerks off guard: State prepares to offer licenses next month in Concord Monitor on 17 November 2007.
LGBT and Queer studies