Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Civil Union Laws in New Hampshire and Oregon Become Effective January 1, 2008

As this new story shows (, there are some small creeping advances for gay rights are occurring in some parts of the country, although Virginia continues to remain in the dark, backward nether world of anti-gay laws. Here are some highlights:

(Concord, New Hampshire) January 1 will usher in laws in states at opposite sides of the country that provide rights for same-sex couples. In New Hampshire, dozens of gay and lesbian couples will herald the New Year by having civil unions. A special mass civil union ceremony is planned for midnight January 1 on the Statehouse steps. Other couples will have ceremonies in towns across the state.

A new license was created for civil unions and became available at local clerk's offices in towns earlier this month. New Hampshire is the fourth state to grant civil unions after New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont. Neighboring Massachusetts in 2004 became the only state to allow gay marriage. Couples entering civil unions will have the same state rights, responsibilities and obligations as married couples. Same-sex unions from other states also would be recognized if they were legal in the state where they were performed.

In Oregon a state domestic partner registry will formally come into existence on January 1. The law allows same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples unable to marry to form legally recognized partnerships. Couples who register will be guaranteed the right to visit partners in hospital and make medical decisions, file joint state tax returns, and have joint health insurance plans or take sick leave to care for their partners. The law was passed after a legal battle for gay marriage failed.

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