(CNN) - New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed same-sex marriage into law Wednesday night.
The bill, which passed the House 198-176 on Wednesday, also was approved by the state Senate 14-10.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation - the nation's primary lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media advocacy and anti-defamation organization - applauded Lynch's decision.
"Gov. Lynch's signing of the marriage equality bill grants legal protections for same-sex couples in New Hampshire to take care of and be responsible for each other," said the organization's president, Neil Giuliano.
"As people get to know the loving and committed couples at the heart of marriage equality, our culture is moving to equality."
Both chambers had previously voted to approve same-sex marriage but Lynch said he would sign the bill into law only if the legislature added new language to protect religious institutions that did not want to perform such marriages.
"We can and must treat both same-sex couples and people of certain religious traditions with respect and dignity," Lynch had said. "I believe this proposed language will accomplish both of these goals."
The Democratic governor said that in recent months he had spoken to lawmakers, religious leaders and constituents as he formed his opinion on the bill.
New Hampshire becomes the sixth state in the nation - alongside Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Iowa and Vermont - currently providing or soon to provide marriage benefits to gays and lesbians.
Vermont's law takes effect September 1 and Maine's September 14, unless its citizens collect enough signatures to put the measure on the fall ballot in the state. New Hampshire's new law takes effect on January 1, 2010.
New Hampshire and Maine are the only states in the nation where representatives elected by voters approved same-sex marriage legislation. The others were decided by high court decisions, although legislatures in Vermont and Connecticut subsequently passed measures codifying the court rulings.
Marry Mo Baxley, executive director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry told CNN, "We're so very proud of our elected officials. We've taken our grievances to our elected officials, and they've responded."
Still, married gay couples do not share federal benefits such as Social Security, tax breaks and immigration benefits that are granted to straight married couples. Baxley is counting on President Barack Obama to make those changes.
"He said he would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and we fully expect him to keep that promise," she said.
Even amongst the excitement, GLAAD president Giuliano remained cautious, referring to the topic of gay marriage benefits as one "that will be a future debate and a future conversation that we'll be having in this country for quite a while."
Cowboy in West Texas June 3rd, 2009 5:37 pm ET
I always wonder what the majority of the people of the state really think. I know the majority of the people they elected voted for same sex marriages – but would the outcome be the same in a general election.
Considering the low percentage of people who vote on ballot initiatives versus the ease with which you can scare a church congregation into supporting any cause you celebre you can dream up, I'd say the outcome would be bad for equality.
Wow, MJM. – "jump in the handbasket and meet hell!!!"
As a Christian who loves God and Christ, I love my neighbor and pray for my enemies. Therefore, I pray that the anger you feel will go away and you can be at peace.
P.S. I'm gay, and I promise you that it's not a choice.
Thank You Carl from MI....
Your argument about popular vote couldn't have better displayed the obvious irony in our cowboy friend and MJM's posts.
NH-I applaud you for finding a way to use our democratic system and protect all individuals.
To those of you who complain that civil rights legislation should go to the vote of the people I would suggest that you learn a little about American history. The majority never votes for minority rights. If people had to vote on equal right legislation in our history then women wouldn't have the vote today (remember that the Bible says that women shouldn't be allowed to speak in church anyway), inter-racial marriage would be banned, segration would be the rule of the land...and on and on... Face it, same sex marriage will be common place in the future and those of you who are resisting it today will look like George Wallace trying to stop four black students for entering the University of Alabama. Wake up and get past your ignorance.
Isn't that romantic and so politically correct! Now if they would address my affections for my pet rock; golly I'd love to marry it! Makes just as much sense!
The gay marriage supporters should fight not to discriminate against pedophiles either. I guess you would say they should be allowed to marrry children. Why can't they have equal rights? The religious should not get in the way of this.
Way to go NH. :) Congrats to all the will-be newly weds!
Wishing you all the happiness in the world.
Thanks to the Northeast part of the country for once again dragging us out of the dark ages!
MJM...learn how to spell. It's homosexuals...not homo-sexuels...or home-sexuels. And you're right, God doesn't make mistakes. He made homosexual perfect just the way we are.
If you're going to use the argument that procreation is a requirement for marriage, should sterile people be banned from getting married? Should it be a requirement to get tested for infertility before letting heterosexuals get married? If a person is infertile, he/she cannot procreate.
To L Rivera:
It was passed by the legislative body of N.H. and signed by the Governor!! How much more Democratic can it get?
Plus the People of N.H. overwhelmingly suppoirt gay marriage.
PS: Try using your mind sometime.
Equality wins over bigotry!! :)
Gawd Bless the USA :]
"Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Ga. and St. Augustine, Fla., and many other campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions." – Coretta Scott King
Coretta and Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King must be smiling in heaven today! Thank you New Hampshire!!! Equality will win!
Rep. John Lewis, longtime ally and close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has said,
"I have fought too hard and for too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism."
Congratulations New Hampshire!
After hearing people spout that they could be with or marry their same gender, and want the right to marry their same gender, I believe this is no longer a lesbian gay issue (born that way). So now we just have come to terms that we're accepting and condoning anyone to marry anyone (excluding incense).
All you folks from away have no business deciding what we do here in New Hampshire. If you don't like our laws, don't come here!
You said it very well. Young people do not have the same fears of gays as the older crowd. I have been married for 40 years to the same wonderful man and I have never understood how a committed gay couple getting married was going to somehow "hurt" my marriage. I have known many gay couples in committed relationships that would make some of my straight friend's marriages look pretty bad.
If it's a violation of civil rights, no amount of votes on either side matter. It IS a case for the courts to decide. This nonsense about people voting it one way or the other and abiding the outcome is just that – nonsense. It's illegal to discriminate when it comes to civil rights. It's actually very clear but it's taken this long for the first states to stand up for what the law actually says.
Once other states see that there is no danger, harm, or biblical plagues attached, they'll probably follow. The ones that still discriminate will still outlaw it because they will have elected officials who will be afraid of losing their jobs over doing their jobs.
This is great! Equal rights for all!!
As the former Vice President said(And I never quite though I'd agree with him) freedom means freedom for everyone!!
We need a new govenor & legislature. If the people of the state can't vote on these laws to heck with NH politicians
Looks like the NH law on the issue might be the legal solution that protects the interests of BOTH PARTIES to the issue.
I was married by a JoP twice. No mention of god or any other made up diety and they were quite legal. I know because I'm paying alimony to both. Would be the same if married by a priest, minister or rabbi, no difference. And that's the way it should be...
If the people of a state voted for slavery would that make it legal.Just because more innocent lives are lost due to religion should it be bannned.Just because the catholic church for centuries harbored the longest child molestion ring in history should it be banned.If Hypocracy was a natiion I bet I know who would be in it.religious nuts,Pro-Life killers,republicans.
If only California wasn't so short sighted. But bigotry is alive and well here in the west.
Just like the birth of this great nation which started in New England and moved west from there, so will same-sex marriage. We all have the right to marry the one we love.
this is so sickening.
If your church or your religion does not condone gay marriage, fine.
WHY does that mean that our SECULAR government, which is SUPPOSED to have a definite SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, must oppose it as well?
No one opposed to gay marriage has been able to give me a straight answer on that.
And to those who think it belongs to the will of the voters, interracial marriage was once something frowned upon, BY the people. Since when should discrimination be allowed based on public vote?