New Hampshire — Dozens of gay and lesbian couples entered into civil unions in New Hampshire in the early moments of New Year's Day as a new state law legalized the partnerships after midnight.
Organizers said that they checked in 37 couples for an outdoor ceremony on the plaza of the New Hampshire Statehouse - the building where the law was adopted and signed in 2007. Participants bundled up against below-freezing temperatures.
New Hampshire's civil unions law - enacted by the Democrat-dominated Legislature early last year and signed by Democratic Gov. John Lynch in May, gives same sex couples the same rights, responsibilities and obligations of marriage without calling the union a marriage.
New Hampshire follows Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey in allowing civil unions. Massachusetts is the only state that allows marriage. New Hampshire estimates that as many as 3,500 to 4,000 civil unions will be performed this first year.