Will NH Be Sixth to Legalize Gay Marriage?

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Maine has passed same-sex marriage, making it the fifth U.S. state to do so. Maine's governor approved the legislation Wednesday, shortly after it passed in the state senate.

The focus now shifts to New Hampshire -- which could make state number six.

But the legalization of gay marriage in New Hampshire hinges on the next move of Gov. John Lynch. He's said before that he opposes it -- but no one is sure just what he'll do with this bill.

Same-sex marriage advocates say they have the momentum right now in New England.

Vermont lawmakers recently approved it over the governor's veto. And just Wednesday, Maine lawmakers passed a bill and Gov. John Baldacci signed it into law.

"In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions. I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law and that a civil union is not equal to a civil marriage," Balducci said.

The governor was quick to point out that Maine's law provides protection for churches.

"This legislation does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees," Balducci said.

But Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals in Maine say they will challenge the new law. Maine lawmakers rejected an amendment that would have allowed a statewide vote on gay marriage in November.

But chief counsel Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice says the people of Maine can overturn that decision through what's called "the people's veto."

He says if 10 percent of the people who voted in the last gubernatorial race sign a petition, they can put the issue on the ballot.

"But you got an issue like this, which is so contentious that you need to let the people really speak their mind," Sekulow said.

"If they vote in favor of it, look, it's the will of the people, that's the way our Republic is set up to operate. But they should be given the chance to have direct input."

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

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