By Kathleen Gilbert

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire, May 21, 2009 ( – After legislators amended New Hampshire’s same-sex “marriage” bill to include better protections for religious liberty, the Democrat-ruled House of Representatives unexpectedly voted it down Wednesday.

The measure failed by a slim margin, as house legislators voted 188-186 to turn down the new version of a bill they had passed in March.  Hours earlier, the Senate had approved the new bill along party lines by a 14-10 vote.

Democrat Governor George Lynch, who has said he opposes same-sex “marriage,” indicated he would accept the bill only if it contained a religious liberty protection amendment.  While the earlier version of the bill had passed both chambers, the new amendment met with opposition from Republican Steve Vaillancourt, an openly homosexual member of the House.

The new religious liberty protection amendment affirmed the right of clergy and others affiliated with religious organizations to refuse to perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies.

The bill now faces further scrutiny in committee, which will attempt to ease passage of the bill.  It is unclear how Gov. Lynch will respond if his requested amendment is altered. If he vetoes the bill, there would not be enough votes to overcome it. 

“The good news is that the same-sex marriage bill did not pass,” commented Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law.  “The bad news is that some legislators want to force clergy to perform same-sex marriages.

“This bill failed to garner enough votes because it contained a clause designed to protect clergy and religious institutions from being forced to conduct same-sex marriages. This should be a wakeup call for people who cherish freedom.”

“The same-sex marriage agenda being advanced is on a collision course with the values and freedoms shared by most Americans,” he said.  “This is clear evidence that the end game is to force clergy and religious institutions to not just accept, but to celebrate and participate in same-sex marriages.”

See related coverage:

NH Governor Backs Same-Sex “Marriage” Legislation

New Hampshire Senate Approves Same-Sex “Marriage”

New Hampshire House OKs Same-Sex “Marriage” Bill