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Ban On Discrimination Against Gays Goes Before House Committee

NHPR Staff

A constitutional amendment that aims to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation went before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

State law already bans discrimination based on sexual orientation on issues such as housing and employment.

But Senator David Pierce, a Democrat, says New Hampshire should be the first state to enshrine that same type of protection for gays and lesbians in its constitution.

“We want to bring New Hampshire out of the 18th century and into the 21st and recognize that all individuals have certain natural rights.”

The proposal cleared the Senate last month with unanimous support

Some opponents told lawmakers that the definition of sexual orientation is unclear and such a change could infringe on religious liberties.

Representative Ed Butler, a Democrat who is also gay, says the amendment falls short without the same protection for transgender people.

“When we move toward a constitutional amendment here in New Hampshire, it must be inclusive of all our gay, lesbian and transgender communities.”

The proposal needs three-fifths support in the House to get on the November ballot.

It would then need two thirds support from voters to be added to the Constitution.