CONCORD, N.H. — A committee of the New Hampshire State Senate plunged Wednesday into the escalating debate over same-sex marriage, hearing hours of discordant testimony on whether the state should become the fifth to allow it.
The state's House of Representatives narrowly approved a bill last month that would legalize marriage for same-sex couples, and the public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee came on the heels of victories for same-sex marriage in Iowa and Vermont. But with the full Senate preparing to vote on the measure as soon as next week, its chances remain uncertain.
With Gov. David A. Paterson set to introduce a same-sex marriage bill to state lawmakers Thursday, activists differ on whether the effort from an unpopular executive will help the cause of marriage equality.
The issue will hinge on whether Paterson and his allies can win the votes of enough Republican state senators to offset opposition from conservative Democrats such as Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx.
Alan Van Cappelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay-rights group, didn't directly answer questions about whether failure in the Senate following Paterson's high-profile support would constitute a setback for the same-sex marriage movement. "We are closer than people think, but we're not there yet," Van Cappelle said.
After Vermont and Iowa legalized gay marriage this month, New York could add to the momentum or halt it, said Suffolk County Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor).
"It doesn't make sense to bring it to a vote and have it fail," said Cooper, who has plans to marry his longtime partner in Connecticut on April 29. "It could potentially have national implications - the opponents of same-sex marriage could say even in liberal New York, this couldn't pass."
It is not my business. It is not your business. It is not society's business. It is the business of the two adults, men, women, man & woman, and that's the end of it.