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March 13. 2014 7:28PM

Senate OKs legislation barring discrimination based on sexual orientation

CONCORD — The state Senate unanimously passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

A three-fifths majority was required to advance the proposed change, CACR 17, to Article 2, guaranteeing “natural rights,” to the House. If the resolution passes the three-fifths supermajority threshold there, it will appear on the ballot in November.

No action is required by the governor.

Once on the ballot, approval of two-thirds of the voters would be required for the change to take place.

Before passing the resolution, the Senate amended it by replacing the term “men” with “individuals” in Article 2.

As a result, if passed ultimately by the voters, Article 2 would say, “All individuals have certain natural, essential and inherent rights,” and, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this state on account of race, creed, color, sex, national origin or sexual orientation.”

Sen. David Pierce, D-Lebanon, who is openly gay, said the unanimous passage marked “a momentous day” for the Senate.

He said state statutes forbid private businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation, but the provision should be “constitutionalized.”

“I believe the state should recognize the same civil rights and responsibilities that we impose on our businesses,” he said. “Our live and let live attitude has allowed us to enact marriage equality.”

Yet, he said, there are “elements in the New Hampshire Legislature who want to roll back those protections.”


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