Governor John Lynch of the US state of New Hampshire signed legislation 3 June 2009 legalising same-sex marriage, making it the sixth state in the US to do so.
The bill had been passed by a 14-10 vote in the Senate, and a 198-176 vote in the lower house. The law will come into effct on 1 January 2010.
While civil marriage will be extended to gay couples, the law clearly states that religious organisations and their employees can refuse to participate in same-sex ceremonies or celebrations.
Massachusetts was the first state in the US to legalise same-sex marriages. Its legislature was compelled to do so after the state supreme court ruled that restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples was discriminatory. It is a sign of changing public attitudes that New Hampshire, like its neighbour Vermont, is legalising gay marriage without pressure from the courts.