CONCORD – Representative David Bates (R-Windham) today released a copy of the floor amendment he will offer when the House votes next week on legislation (HB 437) that returns to the traditional meaning of marriage in the state’s marriage law.
The amendment will limit civil unions to only same-sex couples and eliminate the religious liberty protection clause that is in the current version of the bill which the Judiciary Committee recommended OTP (ought to pass) to the House. Bates removed certain language that seemed to be a barrier to obtaining support from some legislators. “I want to eliminate any unnecessary obstacles that could keep legislators from voting for the bill”, said Bates.
The section dealing with marriage retains a more concise, modified statement of purpose and intent, and removes all but the most essential language concerning the definition of marriage. This section also makes it clear that every marriage (including existing same-sex) in effect when the bill becomes law will continue to be recognized as valid.
The amendment introduces a new section that will put the following question on the ballot for voters to decide in the November 2012 election: “Shall New Hampshire law allow civil unions for same-sex couples and define marriage as the union of one man and one woman?”
The question will not be binding on the legislature, but will make it clear to lawmakers what the will of New Hampshire citizens is on the issue. Representative Bates sees this as the only way to bring closure to the ongoing debate over the definition of marriage. He commented, “I hope Governor Lynch, along with my colleagues in the House and Senate, will see the desirability of settling this issue once and for all by putting the question on the ballot in November for the voters to decide.”
The law will take effect on March 31, 2013. If the voters say no, indicating the desire to keep homosexual marriage in New Hampshire, the legislature will have ample time to take the necessary action to prevent this bill’s return to the traditional definition of marriage. This will allow the legislature to know conclusively the will of New Hampshire citizens so they can act accordingly.
Representative David Bates is a Republican legislator from Windham. He is the prime sponsor of HB 437, creator of the NHmarriage.org website, and has been active working in and outside of the legislature on various initiatives to preserve traditional marriage in New Hampshire.
Attachment (1): HB 437 Amendment 2012-1197h