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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007, 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK
New Hampshire approves gay unions
Sen Martha Fuller Clark (left) celebrates with Rep Suzanne Harvey after New Hampshire's vote
The bill was passed without difficulty in the state senate
Lawmakers in New Hampshire have approved same-sex civil unions, giving legal recognition to gay partnerships in the north-eastern US state.

The bill was passed by a 14-10 vote in the Democratic-held state senate.

State Governor John Lynch would sign the bill into law within days, his spokesman said.

Gay marriage is legal in only one of the 50 US states - Massachusetts. New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont also offer some sort of civil unions.

The bill in New Hampshire was passed without difficulty, unlike in other US states where the change in the law had faced legal challenges.

Gov Lynch's spokesman said the bill would be signed into law very soon.

"This legislation is a matter of conscience, fairness and of preventing discrimination," Colin Manning said.

"It is in keeping with New Hampshire's proud tradition of preventing discrimination," the spokesman added.

'Huge leap forward'

Soon after the senate vote, one of the New Hampshire's best-known gay residents said he would use the new legislation.

"My partner and I look forward to taking full advantage of the new law," Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson told the Associated Press news agency.

"I think this is a huge lead forward but it is not full equality until we have equality. We have come further in a short time than any civil rights movement in history," he said.

Bishop Robinson's ordination in 2003 triggered a major crisis in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion of which it is part.


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