LGBT rights in New Hampshire

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Map of USA NH.svg
StatusLegal since 1975
Gender identityTransgender persons allowed to change gender without surgery
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation and gender identity protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsMarriage since 2010
AdoptionYes since 1999

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of New Hampshire enjoy all the same legal rights as non-LGBT residents, with most advances occurring within the past two decades. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in New Hampshire, and the state began offering same-sex couples the option of forming a civil union on January 1, 2008. Civil unions offered most of the same protections as marriages with respect to state law, but not the federal benefits of marriage. Same-sex marriage in New Hampshire has been legally allowed since January 1, 2010, and one year later New Hampshire's civil unions expired, with all such unions converted to marriages. New Hampshire law has also protected against discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1998 and gender identity since 2018.[1] Additionally, a conversion therapy ban on minors became effective in the state in January 2019.

New Hampshire is regarded as one of the most pro-LGBT states in the country, with recent polls finding that an overwhelming majority of New Hampshire residents support same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.[2]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Legislation against sodomy was repealed in June 1975 along with other reforms.[3] The age of consent in New Hampshire is set at 16, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. The age of consent is 18 for relationships in which one party is under the care, guardianship or authority of the other.[4][5] A 2003 New Hampshire Supreme Court ruling in Blanchflower v. Blanchflower found that adultery could not take place between two females.[6]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Same-sex marriage in New Hampshire has been legal since January 1, 2010. Civil unions expired and all civil unions were converted to marriage on January 1, 2011.

Civil unions[edit]

Civil unions were only available to same-sex couples in New Hampshire. On April 4, 2007, the New Hampshire House with a vote of 243 to 129 passed a civil unions bill which would imbue partners in same-sex civil unions with the same "rights, responsibilities and obligations" as heterosexual couples in marriages.[7][8][9] On April 26, 2007, the New Hampshire Senate approved the civil unions bill 14-10 along political party lines.[10]

Governor John Lynch, who opposed same-sex marriage but indicated that he was receptive to discussing civil unions as a means of granting certain rights to same-sex couples,[11] signed the bill into law on May 31, 2007, making New Hampshire "... the first state to embrace same-sex unions without a court order or the threat of one."[12] The law took effect on January 1, 2008.

By mid-May 2008, over 300 same-sex couples had formed a New Hampshire civil union.[13]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Since January 1, 2010, New Hampshire has allowed same-sex couples to marry.[14] The law previously set age minimums for participants in same-sex marriages different from those in opposite-sex marriage:[15]

No male below the age of 14 years and no female below the age of 13 years shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage that is entered into by one male and one female, and all marriages contracted by such persons shall be null and void. No male below the age of 18 and no female below the age of 18 shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage between persons of the same gender, and all marriages contracted by such persons shall be null and void.

In May 2018, the New Hampshire General Court passed a bill to implement a clear minimum age of 16 with no exceptions. This bill also allows same-sex couples to get married at 16; the minimum age for same-sex couples was previously 18. Originally, the bill had a minimum age of 18 for all couples, but it was reduced to 16 in committee.[16][17] On June 18, 2018, Governor Chris Sununu signed the bill into law.[18] The law went into effect on January 1, 2019.

Adoption and family planning[edit]

New Hampshire law allows a person, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, to adopt. A law banning adoptions by gays and lesbians was repealed in 1999, allowing all single persons to adopt.[19][20]

In 1987, a ruling by New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice David Souter stated that adoption laws are designed to give children one home "that is unified and stable." Judicial interpretations of this ruling and state laws initially varied from county to county, with some judges requiring adopting couples to be married. This resulted in inconsistency in the ability of same-sex couples, who could not legally marry, to adopt jointly. Once same-sex relationships obtained legal recognition in the state, all of New Hampshire's ten counties began allowing adoption by same-sex couples on the same terms as for opposite-sex couples.

New Hampshire law allows any woman to undergo donor insemination. The spouse of a pregnant woman is generally presumed to be the parent of her child.[21] As a result, a child born to married lesbian parents will receive a birth certificate listing both women as the legal parents. State law permits surrogacy arrangements for same-sex couples intending to become parents and allows for the use of donated eggs in conjunction with surrogacy.[21] Same-sex couples intending to become parents can receive a pre-birth order (PBO) directing that both their names be entered on the child's birth certificate when first issued.[22]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Since July 2018, New Hampshire law has explicitly protected individuals from discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, housing and/or any private or public employment.[23][24][25]

In 1998, New Hampshire enacted an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation. Gender identity was not included.

In 2009, House Bill 415 to add "gender identity" to the statute's categories passed the House on April 9 by a vote of 188-187,[26] but was defeated in the Senate on April 29 by a vote of 24-0.[27]

On March 13, 2014, the New Hampshire Senate unanimously approved a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[28][29] Its adoption required approval by 3/5 of the House of Representatives and by 2/3 of voters in the November 2014 elections. However, it was never presented to the voters.

On June 30, 2016, Governor Maggie Hassan issued an executive order to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression in public employment, in access to state programs, and in state contracting.[30][31][32]

In May 2018, the New Hampshire General Court passed a bill (House vote 195–129 and Senate vote 14–10) to include "gender identity" in the state's anti-discrimination law, along with race, sex, age, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Governor Chris Sununu signed the bill into law on June 8, 2018, and it went into effect 30 days later.[33][34][35][36][37][38] Prior to passage of the anti-discrimination law in 2018, discrimination on the basis of gender identity had already been banned in both the public and private sector in the town of Durham.[39] The towns of Derry[40] and Newmarket,[41] and the city of Portsmouth[42] prohibited such discrimination in the public sector only.

On March 7, 2019, the state House approved a bill to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in public accommodations, health care and jury selection.[43]

Moreover, the state's anti-bullying law prohibits bullying on the basis of "race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical, mental, emotional or learning disability, sex, gender identity and expression, obesity, or other distinguishing personal characteristics, or based on association with any person identified in any of the above categories." The law explicitly includes cyberbullying and harassment, and applies to all public schools and chartered public schools.[44]

Hate crime law[edit]

Since 1991, New Hampshire law has covered hate crimes based on sexual orientation.[45][46] On March 7, 2019, the state House approved a bill to include gender identity in the law.[43]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

Sex reassignment surgery has been legal since 1990. Transgender persons in New Hampshire are allowed to change gender without undergoing such surgery, but do require a court order.[47][48]

On October 20, 2017, New Hampshire lifted the ban on Medicaid health insurance coverage and state government funding for sex reassignment surgery.[49][50]

Conversion therapy[edit]

On March 23, 2016, the state House of Representatives approved a bill to prohibit the use of conversion therapy on LGBT minors, in a 229-99 vote.[51][52][53] On May 12, the state Senate approved the bill with amendments, after initially voting to table it.[54][55][56] The House rejected the Senate's amendments, and called for a conference committee. The conference committee did not reach an agreement on the bill's text, and thus the bill died.[51] Governor Maggie Hassan expressed disappointment that the bill did not reach her desk.[57]

In April 2018, both the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the New Hampshire Senate passed a bill that legally bans conversion therapy on minors. Due to different versions, the House and the Senate convened in a conference committee.[58][59][60] In May 2018, the bill was reported out of conference committee and was signed into law a month later by the Governor. The law went into effect on January 1, 2019.[61][62]

Public opinion[edit]

A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute poll found that 73% of New Hampshire residents supported same-sex marriage, while 22% were opposed and 5% were unsure.[2] Additionally, 78% supported the anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation and gender identity. 18% were opposed.

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1976)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 1976)
Anti-discrimination laws in all areas Yes (Since 1998 for sexual orientation and since 2018 for gender identity)
Same-sex marriages Yes (Since 2010)
Equal marriageable age Yes (Since 2019)
Recognition of same-sex couples (e.g. civil union) Yes (Since 2008)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 1999)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 1999)
Right to change legal gender Yes (Since 1990)
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes
Conversion therapy banned on minors Yes (Since 2019)
Third gender option No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples Yes
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes/No (1 year deferral; federal policy)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Hampshire's transgender anti-discrimination bill signed"
  2. ^ a b PRRI: American Values Atlas 2017, "New Hampshire"
  3. ^ William N. Eskridge, Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 (NY: Penguin Group, 2008), 201n, available online, accessed April 9, 2011
  4. ^ "Title LXII of the NH Criminal Code: Chapter 632-A:3, Sexual Assault and Related Offenses". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  5. ^ "Title LXII of the NH Criminal Code: Chapter 632-A:2, Sexual Assault and Related Offenses". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  6. ^ "New Hampshire high court says lesbian sex not adultery". The Advocate. November 12, 2003. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  7. ^ HB437
  8. ^ HB437
  9. ^ Moskowitz, Eric. (April 5, 2007) "N.H. House passes civil unions". Concord Monitor. Accessed April 11, 2007.
  10. ^ Wang, Beverley. (April 26, 2007) "State Senate approves civil unions for same-sex couples". Archived November 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Concord Monitor. Accessed April 26, 2007.
  11. ^ Liebowitz, Sarah. (March 5, 2007) "Gay unions could gain support". Archived June 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Concord Monitor. Accessed April 11, 2007.
  12. ^ AP. (May 31, 2007) "Lynch signs bill legalizing civil unions". Archived November 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Concord Monitor. Accessed May 31, 2007.
  13. ^ AP. (May 16, 2008) "NH gay rights advocates react to CA legalizing gay marriage". New Hampshire Union Leader. Accessed May 16, 2008.
  14. ^ "Same-sex marriage becomes law in NH". Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  15. ^ "HB 436-FN-LOCAL – FINAL VERSION". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  16. ^ HB1587
  17. ^ "Barrington teen 'proud' as bill to raise minimum marriage age expected to become law"
  18. ^ "Sununu Signs Bill Raising Marriage Age in N.H."
  19. ^ "HB 90". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  20. ^ Associated Press. (April 10, 2006) "Gay adoption policies vary by county in N.H." The Boston Globe. Accessed April 24, 2007.
  21. ^ a b Title XII: Chapter 168-B: Surrogacy NH RSA.
  22. ^ Catherine Tucker, "FAQs About Surrogacy in New Hampshire". Accessed August 2, 2014.
  23. ^ "HB 421". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  24. ^ "New Hampshire Chief Signs Gay Rights Bill". June 8, 1997. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  25. ^ "HRC" (PDF). HRC. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  26. ^ "Human Rights Campaign Praises New Hampshire Vote on Gender Identity Protections". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  27. ^ Caulfield, Christine (April 29, 2009). "NH Senate Rejects Transgender Rights Bill". Law360. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  28. ^ "N.H. Senate supports amending constitution to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation". Concord Monitor. March 14, 2014.
  29. ^ "CACR17". New Hampshire General Court.
  30. ^ "Governor Hassan Issues Executive Order Prohibiting Discrimination in State Government on the Basis of Gender Identity or Gender Expression". Office of Governor of New Hampshire. June 30, 2016. Archived from the original on December 14, 2016.
  31. ^ "Executive Order 2016-04" (PDF). Department of Administrative Services of the State of New Hampshire. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 16, 2017. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  32. ^ "Anti-trans discrimination banned in New Hampshire"
  33. ^ "VICTORY! New Hampshire Governor Signs Legislation Protecting Transgender People from Discrimination"
  34. ^ HB1319
  35. ^ "New Hampshire passes transgender nondiscrimination bill"
  36. ^ "Transgender Rights Bill Heads to Governor Sununu"
  37. ^ "New Hampshire approves historic transgender anti-discrimination bill"
  38. ^ "New Hampshire's GOP governor expected to sign ban on transgender discrimination"
  39. ^ "Durham Town Council passes anti-discrimination protection"
  40. ^ 2014 MEI report
  41. ^ Crompton, Jennifer (May 5, 2016). "Newmarket passes gender identity nondiscrimination policy". WMUR-TV.
  42. ^ Splaine, Jim (March 31, 2016). "LGBTQ equality is Portsmouth's fight too".
  43. ^ a b Docket of HB608
  44. ^ "Chapter 193-F: Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention"
  45. ^ "HB 1299 - Bill Text". January 1, 1991. Archived from the original on January 20, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  46. ^ "Docket of HB1299". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  47. ^ New Hampshire, National Center for Transgender Equality
  48. ^ New Hampshire State Statute RSA 5-C:87. Accessed December 14, 2008.
  49. ^ "N.H. Lifts Ban on Medicaid Coverage for Sex Reassignment Surgery"
  50. ^ Solomon, Dave (October 23, 2017). "If Poor People Need a Sex Change, New Hampshire Will Now Cover It".
  51. ^ a b "Docket of HB1661". New Hampshire General Court. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  52. ^ Rayno, Garry (March 23, 2016). "NH House Roundup: Bill would ban 'conversion therapy' for LGBT youth". New Hampshire Union Leader. Archived from the original on May 14, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  53. ^ Morris, Allie (March 23, 2016). "Amid drug crisis, needle exchanges get strong endorsement from N.H. House". Concord Monitor. Archived from the original on March 26, 2016. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  54. ^ "Senate passes bill banning conversion therapy for minors in NH". WMUR-TV. May 12, 2016. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  55. ^ Steinhauser, Paul (May 12, 2016). "In late evening vote, state Senate bans gay conversion therapy for minors". NH1 News. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  56. ^ Rayno, Garry (May 13, 2016). "Senate votes to ban sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors". New Hampshire Union Leader. Archived from the original on May 14, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  57. ^ Sutherland, Paige (May 25, 2016). "N.H. Lawmakers Can't Find Compromise on LGBT "Conversion Therapy" Ban for Minors". New Hampshire Public Radio.
  58. ^ HB587
  59. ^ "NH Senate again backs ban on gay conversion therapy"
  60. ^ "New Hampshire Senate Votes to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Abusive Practice of 'Conversion Therapy'"
  61. ^ "GOP New Hampshire governor signs law banning gay conversion therapy"
  62. ^ "New Hampshire Legislature Sends Anti-'Conversion Therapy' Bill to Gov. Sununu's Desk"

External links[edit]