Press Releases

Gov. Maggie Hassan, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Former GOP Congressman Charlie Bass Call for National Equality on 4th Anniversary of Freedom to Marry in NH

June 3, 2013

Contact: Respect For Marriage Coalition Office / 202-567-5720

Concord, NH—On the fourth anniversary of New Hampshire’s marriage equality law, Governor Maggie Hassan, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, former GOP Congressman Charlie Bass, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, and Republican and military veteran Craig Stowell held a press conference call today urging the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as well as discriminatory state bans on same-sex marriage including California’s “Proposition 8” in decisions expected this month. The bipartisan group of New Hampshire officials marked four years of equality in Massachusetts by calling for national equality for gay and lesbian couples. 

“Throughout our history, every time we have sought to include more people in the life of our state and communities, we have grown stronger. I am proud that, four years ago, New Hampshire became the first state to enact Marriage Equality legislation without the force of a court order, because encouraging strong marriages for all loving couples strengthens families and communities. We must continue working to ensure that all married couples, in New Hampshire and across the country, are treated fairly and equally under the law,” said Governor Maggie Hassan.

“I’m proud to celebrate the fourth anniversary of marriage equality in New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s leadership on this issue should serve as a model for the entire country,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “Equality and freedom are two of our country’s most important principles and we have a moral obligation to make sure all Americans are treated equally and fairly. We need to repeal discriminatory laws like the Defense of Marriage Act because they wrongfully deny LGBT Americans equal treatment under the law, and we need to make sure all Americans have the freedom to marry the person they love.” 

“Like many Americans, my views on the subject of same sex marriage have evolved over time. But I am proud that New Hampshire leads the nation, not as a liberal state, but as a conservative state, supporting individual freedoms and less government control over the personal affairs of her citizens. Had I been privileged to serve in the 113th Congress, I would have worked to build a coalition among Republican members in support of gender equality in America. Just prior to the end of my tenure in Congress, I cosponsored legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which I had supported when it was passed in 1996, as a demonstration of my view that it is time for Republicans to support marriage equality nationwide,” said Bass.

“I'm proud that New Hampshire showed leadership four years ago in adopting marriage equality. It is clear that New Hampshire is on the right side of history and that our early action on marriage equality helped pave the way for other states. This is not a partisan issue: it is the civil rights issue of our time, and we need action at the federal level to ensure all families are treated fairly and equally before the law,” said Pappas.

 “Having the first legislature to pass marriage equality by vote is a true testament to New Hampshire’s enduring commitment to freedom and liberty. As a Marine I saw firsthand how difficult military life can be on loving families and DOMA only serves to make it more difficult,” said Stowell. 

“We know our nation's highest court will rule in the next 30 days on two landmark cases impacting the lives of loving gay and lesbian couples here in New Hampshire and across the country,” added Stowell. “I hope the Justices see what we've seen here in New Hampshire -- that marriage strengthens families and that we have an obligation to treat all our families equally under the law.”

Although 12 states and Washington, D.C. have now passed laws permitting same-sex marriage, 38 states still do not allow gay couples to marry. In addition, even in states like New Hampshire which allows all loving couples to marry, DOMA prevents the federal government from recognizing those marriages, effectively banning those families from more than 1,100 benefits and protections every other married couple receives. As a result, married gay couples in New Hampshire have endured four years of added costs and burdens, from taxed health benefits to income tax complications and loss of survivor’s benefits.

 Since June 3, 2009 when Governor John Lynch signed legislation into law that allowed all loving, committed couples to enter into marriage, nearly 2,000 same sex couples have wed.

The Respect for Marriage Coalition is a partnership of more than 100 civil rights, faith, health, labor, business, legal, LGBT, student, and women's organizations working together to end the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and grow support for the freedom to marry. The Coalition is co-chaired by Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign.