New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed into law a bill establishing homosexual civil unions in the state Thursday, making New Hampshire the fourth state to grant the controversial right to homosexual couples.
The legislation takes effect January 1, 2008, recognizing civil unions from other states as well. The law withholds certain federal tax rights held by married couples but grants state rights similar to those of marriage.
Civil union legislation has been condemned as a farce by opponents to legal recognition of homosexual partnerships, who say it differs from heterosexual marriage in name only. The bill's sponsors, Rep. Dana Hilliard and Rep. Jim Splaine, both declined to say if the next step will be the pursuit of full homosexual marriage rights similar to Massachusetts, according to SeaCoastOnline.
Kansas Senator Sam Brownback criticized New Hampshire Gov. Lynch for signing the legislation, saying, "In nations that have embraced same sex unions, overall marriage has declined putting families in jeopardy. This is a massive social experiment whose early results have been quite harmful to families and children."
"We know in our hearts and we know from all the social data, marriage is the union of man and woman bonded together for life," Brownback said. "The last thing we ought to do is redefine marriage out of existence."
The law was passed by a Democratic-controlled House last month. Opponents have warned that legislators who supported the bill will pay a heavy price in the election of 2008. The organization Conserve N.H. has said they will push to repeal the law. A statement to Gov. Lynch, posted on the group's website, accused the New Hampshire Legislature of bypassing the public in approving civil unions, saying, the Legislature "ignored reams of data that demonstrate the significant negative consequences of policies that demean the traditional family unit and harm our communities."
An item on a companion bill accompanying the Senate budget plan released Wednesday would give homosexuals in a civil union the right to jointly adopt a child. The item was added in anticipation of Gov. Lynch's signing of the gay civil union legislation, SeaCoastOnline.