March 21, 2012 / 11:52 PM / 6 years ago

New Hampshire gay marriage repeal fails

BOSTON (Reuters) - New Hampshire lawmakers easily defeated a bill on Wednesday that would have been the first step toward reversing the state’s law that allows same-sex couples to marry.

The attempt to repeal a law that made gay marriages legal in the state, failed by a vote of 116-211 in the Republican-controlled legislature, drawing applause from many lawmakers in the historic statehouse in Concord.

Governor John Lynch, a Democrat, had promised to veto the bill if it reached his desk.

State lawmakers approved civil unions in 2007 and same-sex marriages in 2009, when both houses in the state legislature were controlled by Democrats.

Close to 2,000 gay and lesbian couples have been married in New Hampshire since the current law went into effect January 1, 2010. The new law would have replaced same-sex marriages with civil unions starting in 2013, but marriages that took place before the repeal would have remained valid.

A poll taken in late January by the University of New Hampshire’s survey centre showed 59 percent of voters were against repealing gay marriage in New Hampshire, whose state motto is “live free or die.”

Some 100 Republicans were among the legislators to vote against the bill.

With the defeat of the repeal attempt, New Hampshire remains one of six U.S. states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal. The others are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont. Washington state and Maryland have approved gay marriage but the laws have not yet gone into effect.

New Jersey’s legislature approved same sex marriage but Republican Governor Chris Christie vetoed it. California continues to hash out the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in the courts.

Reporting By Ros Krasny; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Greg McCune

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