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Attorney Janson Wu Testifies in Support of Repealing New Hampshire Reverse Evasion Law

GLAD Attorney Janson Wu is testifying today in New Hampshire in support of Senate Bill 394, which would repeal the state’s reverse evasion law and clarify the state’s recognition of out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.

An Act Relative to the Recognition of Out of State Marriages, Uniform Marriage Recognition, Civil Union Recognition, and Gender Neutral References would repeal New Hampshire's reverse evasion law, enacted in 1979, which prohibits a non-resident couple from marrying in New Hampshire if their marriage would be "void" or "prohibited" in their home state. 

In his testimony, which can be read in full here, Wu statest that  "reverse evasion statutes have proved not only discriminatory, but worthless and unnecessary decades ago," and further, "while we believe the statute is unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable, it's continued existence threatens the validity of many marriages of out-of-state couples who come to New Hampshire to marry."

SB 394 also provides that any New Hampshire couple that was married in another state (such as Massachusetts) will have their marriage recognized from the date of solemnization, makes clear that even if a couple entered into a civil union in another state, they can also get married in New Hampshire with out first having to dissolve the civil union, and clarifies that all domestic-relations related statutes should apply equally to families regardless of the gender of the two parties.

GLAD and Marriage Equality Rhode Island

GLAD continues to work with our partner Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) to advance an affirmative marriage equality bill and to build a set of legal protections for same-sex couples through legislation.

The 2008 legislative platform includes:

Compassion for All Families Ac
t –  would give domestic partners the spousal benefits of family medical leave, nursing home visitation, and funeral planning
Equal Divorce – would allow same-sex couples married outside of Rhode Island to divorce in Rhode Island courts
Equal Marriage – would allow all Rhode Island couples the equal freedom to marry

For more information, visit Marriage Equality Rhode Island.

New Hampshire’s Civil Union Law

As of January 1, 2008, New Hampshire same-sex couples are able to enter into civil unions. If you are a New Hampshire resident and have questions on the new law, please contact GLAD’s Legal InfoLine.

Read GLAD’s publication: New Hampshire Civil Unions [PDF]
Read the NH State Insurance Department bulletin [PDF] on implementation of the civil union law
Read the article: N.H. Civil Unions: Legal Protections, Obligations, Pitfalls [PDF]

Gay Mainers to have Family Medical Leave

Maine’s legislature passed a bill extending the protections of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to same-sex couples and their families. Working with Equality Maine, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, and the Maine Women’s Lobby, GLAD helped organize testimony, planned media strategy, and talked to lawmakers about this important legislation. The bill, which Governor Baldacci signed into law on June 8, enables lesbian and gay employees to take time off work to care for a sick partner or partner’s child.

Read the Kennebec Journal Article
See the protections denied same-sex couples
Read Mary Bonauto’s Testimony

Background: One Familie’s Story

Near the end of her struggle with cancer, Sandy Osterby’s partner Donna wanted nothing more than to have Sandy by her side. And Sandy was there – once her co-workers generously donated their own sick time to her. That extraordinary generosity was necessary because Sandy and Donna were not covered by Maine’s Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The untenable choice between job security and urgent family needs was addressed this session by an amendment to Maine’s FMLA to include “domestic partners.” As of this writing, the bill passed Maine’s Senate by a vote of 28 to 5, passed the House by 95 to 41, and was signed into law by Governor John Baldacci.

GLAD worked with Equality Maine, the Maine Women’s Lobby, and other partners to push the legislation through while also demonstrating how many existing workplace protections benefit married families but not unmarried families. Civil Rights Project Director Mary Bonauto testified before the Labor Committee, prepared an analysis of how marriage advantages working families, and talked with newspaper editorial boards to explain the issue. GLAD also helped people like Sandy to tell their own stories, both to legislators and to the media.

LGBT equality organizations and allies also testified about the differences between religious and civil marriage, workers compensation reforms, tax inequities, and access to absentee ballots.

“Family medical leave is only one of the many ways that gay and lesbian couples and families are harmed because they can’t marry,” said Bonauto. “This represents a step forward – but it would be far better and fairer to make comprehensive rather than piecemeal changes.”

Testimony and Reports from the NH Commission on Civil Rights

Testimony and Reports from the NH Commission on the Civil Rights, Responsibilities, Laws and Legal Obligations Related to Same-Sex Unions

Entire Minority Report [pdf]
GLAD’s Testimony [pdf]
Professor Barbara Cox Testimony [pdf]
Dr. Marshall Forstein Testimony [pdf] and Attachments [pdf] [14 MB]
Dr. Ellen Perrin Testimony [pdf]
Economist Lee Badgett Testimony [pdf]
Professor Nancy Cott Testimony [pdf]
Steve Varnum Testimony [pdf]
Susan Hassan, Esq. Testimony [pdf]