New Hampshire House members yesterday soundly defeated two efforts by conservatives to roll back gay marriage laws in New Hampshire.

The House voted by a wide margin, 201-135, against a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. It later defeated a proposed repeal of the state's new marriage, 210-109.


New Hampshire's gay marriage laws passed last year and took effect Jan. 1, two years after civil unions became legal. The laws allow same-sex couples in civil unions to convert their relationship to marriage this year, or wait until the conversion becomes automatic on Jan. 1, 2011.

The amendment, CACR 28, fell short of a simple majority, and far below the three-fifths majority -- 238 votes -- it needed to advance to the Senate. It could not have taken effect without a two-third majority among voters this fall.

Sponsors tried to delay the vote on the amendment until March 17. That would have given local voters at town meetings next month time to weigh in on warrant articles that ask for a general election vote on the amendment.

"All we're trying to do here is put this on the ballot," said Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, arguing voters should have their say. His effort to delay a vote fell short on a 191-148 vote. The House killed the gay marriage repeal after only a half-hour of debate, voting by a 2-1 margin to adopt a Judiciary Committee recommendation.

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