(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."
L Rivera June 3rd, 2009 5:53 pm ET
"Another hot-issue law imposed without the vote of the citizens."
What the hell are you talking about? The bill was passed by elected legislators and signed by an elected governor. That's how a representational democracy works – you elect people who do the legislating.
Now if your point is that not enough people vote or are even aware of who their state legislators are...fair enough. But that has nothing to do with how hot an issue is.
"I don"t care what any of you think, people were not made home-sexuels, cause God don't make mistakes. "
I hate when Christian nuts use religion against gay-marriage. it's a state issue!!
And really, MJM, god doesn't make mistakes? How do you explain all the abnormal birth defects that happen and idiots like Rush Limbaugh?
Congratulations, New Hampshire! Now the whole country should figure out what "Live Free or Die" means! I am so happy for the many citizens who can finally beathe in some free, fresh air!
Sounds like Gov Lynch doesn't want to be governor anymore. It's time to start recalling these clowns who enact major pieces of controversial social legislation with no input from the citizens.
what's next, human/ animal marriage rights? this has gone too far. tolerance is one thing, but to condone is wrong. why should we have to change our laws because they changed the way human nature is suppose to be. they changed we didn't! if it were right they would be able to reproduce but they can't. it is wrong morally and mentally!
i know, i know, CNN will probably post my comment again because i speak the truth!
Finally! Equality for all!
"MJM, if ever there was a case for keeping abortion legal, you're it"
Hahaha. Right on Frank.
Majorities should never have the right to vote on Minorities civil rights.
Let's have Alabama & Mississippi vote on whether black men can marry white women.
Great Day for New Hampshire! Equality for All!
Just another supporter of a non-christian minority, Its time for the majority to speak and vote all the non-christian, non-ethical politicians out of office.
God made us GAY. And those with small minds often get gay children from God to teach you about tolerance and to open your mind. May all of you homophobes keep breeding and have more gay children.
It amuses me that you divorce, remarry, divorce again, etc, and then say marriage is so sacred. Why don't we outlaw divorce!!
When a nation becomes Godless things like recession, unemployment, N1H1, terrorist attacks seem to become more common. Just always remember, you reap what you sow!
OK folks, we have a representative democracy, not a direct democracy. Governor Lynch signed a bill that protects the rights of both same-sex couples to marry AND of religious groups freedoms, so what's to complain about?
Separation of church and state is the reason we ALL get to enjoy freedom of religion, not just evangelicals, and I'd be willing to bet that the majority of granite staters do support this bill.
Freedom of religion means that I don't have any right to force you to show compassion to both the desperate and the outcast in society, even though Jesus did exactly that.
The same nut jobs using religion as an excuse for bigotry are the same idiots who thought witches were real, black people were property and interacial marriage would end civilization.
Idiots that can't provide factual visual evidence that marriage suffers when gay people have access to it need to keep thier traps shut.
Don't even play the sanctity card if you've had pre-marital sex ever...and certainly don't brag about when straight divorces are astronomical now.
– proud NH resident
This may be news to you, but most laws are not passed by citizens. Politicians pass laws. Your ignorance is exactly why this is the case.
And NH, good for you. You somehow passed equality for your citizens and protected your religious institutions at the same time. You are a model for the rest of the country.
I am not GLBT but I am very glad this is happening all over the country for them, it has been very wrong all these years to deny any american their happiness..
The old ways are slowing going away, and our parents are either giving up or giving in, either way, its a good thing...
Who cares what you are as long as youre happy , isnt that what our parents always said ?
okay for all you idiots out there , who want to deny me the right to marry my partner of 16 years, let us put your life up for a vote, lets strip equality for black people , lets take the vote away from women, all these were not popular when they became law and these awful things were supported by the bible. what a pitiful society we have become when you worry about 2 women or 2 men having the right to marry . i wonder why it bothers you so much, maybe you have a tendency or feel threateed. and mjm , god does make mistakes , just look in the mirror.
Hey, "cowboy" & Brian G..... all you Texans are just thrilled to death with your right wing politicians ??? Do us all a favor and secede, will ya?! You "rednecks" are pathetic.
Is it me or does anyone else see the writing on the wall? There will come a day, although much sooner than any self respecting bigot would like, when all couples will receive equal treatment under the law. Freedom is for every American and yes, we gay Americans love this country just as much as you texas cowboy whatever you call yourself. It really doesn't matter. Equality comes to all; after all this is America. I love this country! I'm a vet and I haven't owned a foreign car in almost 20 years! Yes Matilda, homos did and do serve our country. If more folks took time to look around, they could learn that us homos are just everyday Americans that know how to throw a mean Fourth of July party!
Equality should never be up for a vote.
L. Rivera – when do we vote on YOUR marriage? I'm probably opposed. Sorry.
Congrats. to the the Governor and the Legislature.
California is next by way of another vote of the people.
I cant believe that America is turning into a country where parents have to explain to their child about "Adam & Steve". I hope to God they don't try this non-sense in AZ.
thank you to NH, and I hope NY soon joins the list of states where the separation of church and state, as well as basic human rights, actually exist. i'm white and heterosexual, and i've never understood how gay rights are any different than racial equality.. equal is equal, and people need to stop letting their personal, spiritual beliefs deny other people their basic human rights.
Marriage or no marriage won't stop us from being gay. Nothing will. It isn't a choice - God made us this way - and God wants everyone to be happy with that which he has given us. He has helped me find my partner, who I hope to marry some day. Don't worry, we won't get married in any of your churches. We wouldn't impose that on you.
Also, we do not have direct democracy, we never have. The majority should never rule on all laws - you voice yourself through your elected representatives. That's how America works and is one of the things that made us great in the past.
Notice it's always the courts, or a politician that enacts these laws. never is it the overwhelming voice of the people.
California is the biggest example of what would happen if the people everywhere got their chance to vote.
As a nonreligious conservative I agree with this 100%.Smaller less intrusive government. I don't really care one way or the other if gay people get married it doesn't affect me however if that's what they want to do why should my government stop them? Well it shouldn't stop them. And to all those who wonder what the majority of the people of state how they would vote? well that is irrelevant. We live in a REPUBLIC not a "pure" democracy. We elect those people to make decisions for "us". Now if the people don't like how they vote then they can vote them out. in any event I doubt people would like it if their OWN marriage had to be voted on for it to be legal.