The New Hampshire Senate approved revisions to a same-sex marriage bill on Wednesday morning, paving the way for an afternoon vote in the less-predictable House of Representatives.
Lawmakers have been working on the bill for months; gay-rights supporters hope the latest changes will ensure it becomes law. The changes further emphasize that by legalizing gay marriage, the state will not impinge on the religious freedom of those who do not believe in it.
As originally passed, the bill exempted members of the clergy from having to perform same-sex weddings. At the request of Gov. John Lynch, the Legislature amended the bill to make clearer that religious opponents of same-sex marriage would not have to participate in ceremonies celebrating it. But the House narrowly rejected that language on May 20, and legislative leaders appointed a conference committee to negotiate more palatable changes.
The changes include a sentence that states, Each religious organization, association, or society has exclusive control over its own religious doctrine, policy, teachings and beliefs regarding who may marry within their faith.”