(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."
Bravo, New Hampshire!
The momentum towards full equality is building. And with every state that is added, the more the doomsday predictions of the anti-gay crowd are revealed for the strawmen they are.
There is far too much hate and despair in this world. Whenever two people are able to come together of their own volition and find love, joy, and happiness, that is something to be celebrated, not condemned.
And to those of you complaining about the fact that "the people" didn't get to vote - I am all in favor of government by the people, except when people's Civil Rights are at stake - NO GROUP, no matter how big, should be allowed to vote those away.
it's all very fundamental common sense. EQUAL RIGHTS FOR EVERYONE in this supposed free country. for those of the right, your esteemed spokesperson, Dick "war criminal" Cheney even supports gay marriage and emphasizes that states should decide on their own. If we listened to majority rule only, christian heterosexual men would be the only ones in power. Blacks couldn't marry, would be enslaved, women wouldn't vote, own property, etc. Translate the Constitution – Equal Rights for Everyone Now!
Way to go New Hampshire!
MJM – Learn to spell!
What a throwback like MJM fails to recognize (among many things) is that not everyone shares his exacting (and erroneous) interpretation of scripture. And whatever prompts a man or woman to love their own gender is none of your (or anyone's) business; as long as it is between two consenting adults.
I live in California, and I assure you there are a great many here who are not proud of the decision to uphold Prop 8. Sometimes the will of the people is not the way to go; you have to examine precedent and weigh the rights of the individual versus the oppressive power of sanctioned bigotry.
Years from now, this deprivation of personal freedom for homosexuals will be looked at with the same contempt and shame of some pre-Civil Rights Act attitudes towards blacks (remember; segregation was once legal as well).
MJM... I'm not sure what a home-sexuel is. I think the word you seek is homosexual. Actually, Grammar 101 is what you need. I also trust that you've never sinned.
mjm your a homopobic idiot same sex marriage isnt bothering you personally its about time goverment quit listening to the relgious moroms im a christian and i dont care.this country was founded on all men were created equall so they have the same rights as you and me. maybe we should say you cant be married because you have brown hair and your wife has red hair. so get a life and mind your own bussiness.
while I'm against this, hey, if gay people think they're born with some gay gene mutation, how about we all let them get married. Once they die, since they can't reproduce, no more gay people, right? The mutation would die out.
To MJM: God doesn't make mistakes when it comes to grammar and spelling, but you seem to have NO problem trampling all over those things.
Proud to be from New Hampshire! "Live Free or Die" are indeed more than just words..
How long has gay marriage been allowed in Massachusetts? And yet the world has not come to an end. As a gay man in a loving relationship with the same man for over 13 years, I'm glad to see the change. How does my union make yours weaker? But if the christian conservative right (I purposely use the lower case "c") wants to have a constitutional amendment at federal or state levels defining marriage as between one man and one woman, I'm prepared to support them as long as they also add to this amendment the prohibition of all divorce. It isn't me and my partner of 13 years that is destroying marriage, it is straight couples who are unwilling to live up to their promises.
marriage in general just isn't worth it so idk why he'd even sign the law. I mean look at it majority of Americans don't even get together because of love. not to say that there aren't americans that get together because they love each other. Marriage just keeps you from climbing the food chain of your work place :-p
Since when do citizens directly vote on "hot-issue" laws? These laws were enacted by those who elected them into office. A public referendum is not required to allow same-sex marriage.
this is exciting news. congrats new hampshire.
oh and to address all the argument about popular vote: civil rights should NEVER be up for popular vote. the majority will NEVER come to a large, collective moral epiphany and give up power. the majority will never stick up for the minority. you need the law to step in and protect the minorities. so good for you, governor lynch.
God does not approve of gay marriage, period...
Ah what a country we have become. Corruption and sin have become the coin of the day. A battle of good and evil and evil in this country and at this point the darkness has fallen across this once great nation.
MJM said: "I don"t care what any of you think, people were not made home-sexuels, cause God don't make mistakes. "
MJM, you are so right. If God had meant homosexuals to exist, we'd have them.
Equality, not at all!!!! Marriage was a covenant created by God, who does not honor homosexuality! This is terrible and not something to be celebrated! I am praying for Deliverance, God did not make you that way, you are under a curse from the devil if you are LUSTING after the same sex. Call it judgemental if you choose but show me a REAL CHRISTIAN who will disagree? By the way Christian being a FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!
As I've said before, you want to infuriate radical muslims and encourage more terrorist assaults on the U.S., just continue on this path of decadence. Not only is homosexuality condemned in the New Testament but also by Islam. This type of legislation will bring the U.S. into greater danger. It's a fact; just talk to your local muslims; they'll tell ya.
To the folks calling for a vote of the citizens I'm pretty sure it was all elected officials who legalized this. I can see the argument in a case where the court puts into law... but when you vote in the senate and the congress and the governor and they pass a law... that argument has a lot less strength.
And the unstoppable tide of equality rolls on. Congratulations New Hampshire for living up to American ideals of freedom!
Since when do we get to vote on whether certain Americans get equal rights? Gay Americans should have every right that every other American has. Unless we are amending the Constitution to say that All Americans No Longer Have Equal Rights.....suck it up and get over it. Gay marriage hurts no one. If Gay marriage threatens your marriage that is your problem..... you should have come out of the closet before you got married to someone of the opposite sex.
Also since when does religion get to have ANYTHING to say about Americans civil rights????
It is time that ALL legal, tax-paying citizens have the same rights in this country.
I applaud this bill.
It never censes to amaze me just how sick people really are. This is sick and is setting a terrible example for our children. Marriage is and always will be between a man and woman.
Thank you NH! Can't wait for the rest of the states and the Feds to wake up and smell the coffee. This is going to happen for everyone. It's just a matter of time.
It just amazes me that the people that argue against "activist judges" and "judges legislating from the bench" will now argue against state politicians "legislating".
The truth of the matter is, these conservatives ONLY want people to see the world according to how they see it. So now we have the N.H. legislatures doing their "legislating". Kind of ironic, isn't it??
Oh by the way, conservatives, what is the new argument going to be now??