Give marriage equality a chance

On Jan. 1, 2010, the people of New Hampshire can be proud that we will be joining the other few states in this great nation that provide marriage equality for all of our residents under our laws. That is when House Bill 436 — legislation approved last spring that allows for the marriage of same-gender New Hampshire citizens — becomes effective. Marriage equality came to our state “the New Hampshire way.” We had a long discussion about the value of the relationship of two people who want to join together in a legal commitment to share their love and caring for one another. It makes common sense in our society to encourage more of the stable relationships between two people that marriage provides. In that way, same-gender marriages will strengthen the institution of marriage. And marriage is about families, which all of us want. Much good can come from marriage equality for all New Hampshire citizens.Saying “no” to discrimination has been a hallmark in New Hampshire for centuries. Because people have been settling in New Hampshire from places around the world for the past 400 years, our state has a rich diversity of cultures and nationalities. That has made our state stand out as having the tradition of respecting one another as human beings, and appreciating what each of us brings to strengthen our bond as a people.The people of our state are accepting of our neighbors, and we do what we can to help our neighbors. Though we are all different, we have most things in common.January 1, 2010, will become an important date in New Hampshire history because once again the people of our state are showing that we are recognizing and appreciating our fellow citizens for who they are. I’m confident that love and acceptance will always win out over hate and intolerance, and other states throughout our great nation will eventually extend equality to all of their citizens, just as we are doing here.For those who doubt that, I just ask that you give us a chance.On a personal level, as one who was born here long ago and who plans to be buried here in our family plot in Portsmouth, I could not be more pleased to see New Hampshire as a leader in taking this leap forward toward equality for our gay and lesbian friends and neighbors.Being gay myself and an elected member of the Legislature for 30 years, I have seen an evolution of discussion on this important matter of equality. It is especially heartwarming to see that we have reached the point that we can put aside our bias and prejudice and judge people for the good things they do and the good people they are, rather than let myths or fear separate us.That is “the New Hampshire way” at its best.History treats well those who stand up for the rights of others. History will treat well the people of New Hampshire, who have reason to be proud of this important achievement.
State Rep. Jim Splaine, D-Portsmouth, was primary sponsor of House Bill 436.