Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New England is Winning

The new year in New Hampshire brought unprecedented amounts of snow, an unprecedented winning streak for the Patriots and the implementation of a new civil union law.

New England is now winning with the number of states that extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples. My home state joins the ranks of Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts. (New Jersey is not in New England).

When I was home for the Christmas holiday, I got to talking about the new law with my father who works in the State Attorney General’s office.

The good news, he said, is that the law is simply defined. It basically says that couples entering in to a civil union have the same benefits and protections as a married couple. The bad news
is that because it is so simply defined there are a lot of wrinkles that still need ironing out. For instance, it doesn’t tell government agencies how to implement the law, whether nonresidents can apply, whether California’s domestic partnerships will be honored, and on and on and on.

While they’ve gained significant gains with civil unions, New Hampshire families will continue to have to struggle with a second-class status until they have full marriage. It’s possible the full extent of civil unions won’t be known until it’s fully tested in the courts. But unlike their neighbors Vermont and Massachusetts, there was no strong opposition to the new law
so who knows how long it will take.

The New Hampshire Legislature could have solved a lot of frustration by going the way of Massachusetts, as only marriage will allow families to live out their hopes and dreams and give them the respect they deserve.

New Hampshire might not be on the ball with marriage, but at least they can say they have an unbeatable football team.