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Text of gay marriage ban floated

Last modified: 1/29/2011 12:00:00 AM
A bill repealing the state's gay marriage law would use the same statute to prohibit both incest and same-sex marriage.

The bill, sponsored by Windham Republican Rep. David Bates and 11 co-sponsors, would repeal New Hampshire's laws allowing both civil unions and gay marriage.

The bill's preamble states, 'Marriage is not a creature of statute but rather a social institution which predates organized government.' It says marriage serves 'important social goods' in which government has an interest.

It continues, 'The vast majority of children are conceived by acts of passion between men and women - sometimes unintentionally.' Because of that, the bill states, the state has an interest in protecting the union of men and women to increase the likelihood that children will be born and raised by their natural parents.

Bates's bill lists the marriages that would be prohibited to all men and women. Besides same-sex partners, they include marriages to their children, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

The bill states that any marriage recognized by New Hampshire before the adoption of the law would remain intact. But any same-sex marriage performed out of state after the law is passed - for example, a marriage performed in Massachusetts - would not be recognized as valid in New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition criticized Bates for focusing on gay marriage instead of the economy. 'Rep. Bates has planted himself firmly, and proudly, on the fringes of American life,' Mo Baxley, executive director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, said in a statement. 'His need to divorce committed couples and to prevent other couples from getting married is strange. So much for family values.'

Gay marriage became legal in New Hampshire in January 2010. Since then, nearly 1,000 same-sex couples have married.

House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt said recently that repealing gay marriage is not a priority for House leadership, and he will ask the House Judiciary Committee to retain Bates's bill until 2012. The final decision will be up to the committee, which is led by Amherst Republican Rep. Robert Rowe. A public hearing has not yet been scheduled.

(Shira Schoenberg can be reached at 369-3319 or sschoenberg@cmonitor.com.)


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