Effective January 1, 2010, New Hampshire becomes the fifth state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage. The state passed marriage equality legislation in 2009, expanding upon rights already extended to same-sex couples through civil unions legislation in 2008.
By late December, about 40 couples had applied to their town clerks for licenses. Many more couples are expected to apply for licenses this year, and, in 2011, the more than 700 civil unions in the state will automatically be updated to marriages. New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed a same-sex marriage bill into law early June despite his opposition to gay marriages and only after state lawmakers had complied with his requirement to include provisions in the legislation protecting religious institutions. The state Senate had voted 14-10 and the state House 198-176 to pass the measure. Lawmakers had negotiated to include an amendment exempting religious institutions from participating in marriage-related activities that are against their beliefs. Several times the bill was in danger of being completely rejected.
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