(Concord, New Hampshire) The New Hampshire Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that would make the state the fifth in the nation to grant marriage equality.
The 13-11 vote came despite a recommendation last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee that it be rejected.
The chair of the committee, Sen. Deborah Reynolds (D) was one of those who recommended voting against the bill, but on Wednesday she voted for it, saying since the committee meeting she had heard from a large number of constituents who favored the bill.
Republicans voted in a block against the measure, along with one Democrat.
The bill was amended prior to the vote to draw a distinction between civil and religious weddings – allowing churches which do not approve of gay relationships to refuse to conduct ceremonies.
Last month the bill passed the House on a 186-179 vote, but the House will need to vote on this bill again, since it was amended by the Senate.
If it passes the House a second time, it will head to the desk of Gov. Gov. John Lynch who has said he believes the current civil union law works fine, but has not said if he would veto the bill.
Earlier on Wednesday a new poll was released showing most residents of New Hampshire support same-sex marriage.
The University of New Hampshire Survey Center Poll found that 55 percent of New Hampshire residents support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while 39 percent oppose it.
The poll was sponsored by the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition.
Same-sex marriage already is legal in three New England states – Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont. A Maine Senate committee also voted on gay marriage today. Rhode Island is the only New England state where same-sex marriage legislation has not advanced.
Elsewhere, same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa. New York Gov David Paterson (D) has unveiled legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry in the Empire State and in California, the Supreme Court is expected to rule this spring on the legality of Prop 8 the voter approved measure banning gay marriage in that state.