The Boston Globe
WHEN VERMONT legislators legalized civil unions for gay couples in 2000, there was a bitter backlash against the reform. But on New Year's Day, New Hampshire joined Vermont, Connecticut, and New Jersey in extending civil union rights to gay and lesbian couples, and the event was met with a collective yawn. There are several reasons for this change, but the most important is that residents of New Hampshire have had a chance to observe Vermont and Connecticut's civil unions and Massachusetts' same-sex marriage, and realized that extending rights to a minority is no threat to the majority - or to the institution of marriage.
Not too many years ago, the fiery conservatism of the Manchester Union-Leader newspaper and the state's former governor, Meldrim Thomson, made New Hampshire an unlikely candidate for quiet acceptance of expanded rights for gays. But as resistant as its citizens have been to broad-based taxes or expanded government, there has always been a live-and-let-live streak in the state that has made it infertile ground for politicians telling other people how to live. Recently, the state's high-tech industries have brought in highly trained newcomers with broad views on social issues. Polling for the presidential primary shows that gay marriage is of minor concern to the state's voters.
This page finds civil unions to be an inadequate substitute for true marriage equality. Still, there likely would have been more opposition had New Hampshire legalized gay marriage and not just civil unions, which are seen as a compromise measure. Also, the fact that New Hampshire's elected legislators initiated the change, as opposed to an "unelected" court, as was the case in both Vermont and Massachusetts, may have made the reform more acceptable to voters.
Click here to read the rest.