Gay and Transgender Rights

Citizens Count Editor

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.  The acronym is intended to encompass all people who may not conform to traditional ideas about sexual orientation and gender.

When it comes to laws related to LGBTQ status, New Hampshire has protections for citizens based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation describes who a person is attracted to.  For example, homosexuality is a sexual orientation.

Current state laws

  • New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, and in 2015 a U.S. Supreme Court ruling made same-sex marriage legal nationwide.  Same-sex individuals and couples in New Hampshire also have the same rights as heterosexual citizens when it comes to adoption and parenting, including the right for same-sex parents to both be listed on a child’s birth certificate.
  • New Hampshire law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation based on sexual orientation. “Public accommodation” includes hotels, restaurants, theaters, health care providers, and so on.
  • New Hampshire also has a hate crime law that allows for increased penalties if an offender is motivated by hostility towards the victim’s sexual orientation.
  • It is illegal in New Hampshire to practice conversion therapy on people under age 18, which attempts to change a person's sexual orientation.

Explore related debates about bullying

Gender identity

Gender identity describes a person’s sense of self as either male or female (or neither).  Gender identity may be different from a person’s biological sex at birth.

Current state laws

  • In 2018, New Hampshire passed a law adding gender identity to state anti-discrimination laws, which cover employment, housing and other public accomodations. 

Read more about employment discrimination laws in New Hampshire

  • New Hampshire’s civil rights act and hate crime laws do not include gender identity.  
  • New Hampshire also allows individuals to change the sex that is listed on their driver licenses if a licensed health care provider fills out a form swearing to the individual’s gender identity. To change the sex listed on a birth certificate, an individual must first petition the probate court for an order certifying that he or she had a sex change.  The individual may then present that court order to a town clerk, who is able to get a new birth certificate from the state.  Residents must pay fees to make these changes.
  • There is no New Hampshire law requiring insurers to cover gender transition-related care, and most insurers opt to treat gender transition-related care as elective rather than medically necessary.  New Hampshire’s Medicaid program also does not cover gender transition-related care.

Proposed state laws

There have been no New Hampshire bills to add gender transition-related care to New Hampshire’s insurance laws, although organizations such as GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders advocate for such a change.

The state's first openly-transgender legislator, Rep. Gerri Cannon, is sponsoring bills this year to add a third gender designation for gender-queer to state driver's licenses, and to make it easier to change gender on one's birth certificate. 

PROS & CONS

"For" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

 “New Hampshire should increase legal protections based on LGBTQ status.”

  • Gay and transgender rights are human rights.  New Hampshire should therefore do everything in its power to ensure that LGBTQ citizens can live and work free from discrimination.  Protecting LGBTQ citizens is particularly important because they are far more likely than the general population to experience harassment and discrimination. 
  • There are other state laws and statutes, such as New Hampshire's hate crime and civil rights legislation, that should be updated to expressly include gender identity, so that the rights of LGBTQ citizens are fully ensured. 
  • States that are known as unwelcoming to LGBTQ citizens can suffer economic consequences as businesses and individuals choose to travel elsewhere. For example, after North Carolina passed a bill that required citizens to use the bathroom matching their biological sex, Forbes estimates the state lost $630 million in business. PayPal withdrew plans to build a new business center, the NBA pulled its tournament, and Google Ventures refused to invest in North Carolina companies.
  • There is growing evidence of a biological basis for a transgender identity, making gender transition-related care necessary medical treatment for some individuals' mental health. New Hampshire should therefore forbid insurance companies from denying coverage for these services.

"Against" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

“New Hampshire should not increase legal protections based on LGBTQ status.”

  • Courts have the flexibility to interpret existing anti-discrimination laws to fit new situations.  For example, laws against discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation have been used to protect transgender employees in other states.
  • Laws intended to protect the rights of gay and transgender citizens actually infringe on the religious rights and privacy of other citizens by forcing them to accommodate lifestyles that they find morally or personally objectionable.
  • There are other ways to accommodate transgender individuals in schools and other public places, such as building single stall, gender-neutral bathrooms.
  • Some health care professionals, including the Catholic Medical Association, argue that gender identity disorder/gender dysphoria is primarily a mental/emotional disorder that should not be treated with potentially harmful physical modifications. Therefore, gender transition-related services are arguably not medically necessary.  Requiring insurers to cover those services will raise insurance premiums for everyone and open the door to coverage for other elective medical procedures.
  • Given that there is still some debate over there being a biological basis for gender identity, it is especially important to exclude gender identity from anti-discrimination laws, as this could open the door to creating new protected classes based on any number of arbitrary factors.  Adding another protected class to anti-discrimination laws will create even more opportunities for frivolous lawsuits, which already burden businesses and raise costs for consumers.  

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Passed House

Adds a definition of gender identity to the section of state law with general definitions, and adds gender identity to many areas of state law prohibiting discrimination, including discrimination against public employees. The bill also adds gender discrimination to the state law allowing an extended prison sentence for a hate crime.

Passed House and Senate

Requires drivers' licenses and nondrivers' identification cards to indicate gender as male, female, or other, as indicated by the applicant.

Passed Senate

States, "No person shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in public schools because of their age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability, religion or national origin," and allows individuals to file lawsuits under this law. The Senate amended the bill to also require each school district to develop a plan to prevent and respond to incidents of discrimination.

In Committee

Adds sexual reassignment to the definition of child abuse.

Passed House and Senate

Allows an individual to obtain a new birth certificate based on a change of gender identity, as certified by a licensed health care provider. At the time of this bill's submission, a court order is required to change a birth certificate. This bill also allows a gender identity of nonbinary on a birth certificate. The Senate amended the bill to add some detail, such as requiring the permission of a parent or guardian if a minor seeks a birth certificate change. The House and Senate must agree on a final version of the bill.

Tabled in the Senate

Deletes the requirement that restaurants must provide separate bathrooms for each sex.

Killed in the House

Prohibits Medicaid coverage for sex reassignment drug or hormone therapy or surgery.

Tabled in the Senate

Prohibits Medicaid coverage for sex reassignment drug or hormone therapy or surgery.

Killed in the House

Increases a criminal charge from sexual assault to aggravated sexual assault if the assault takes place in a public bathroom, locker room, or similar location.

Killed in the House

Expands the categories that the university and community college systems cannot use to discriminate or give preferential treatment, to include "age, color, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, familial status, or actual or perceived status as a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault."

Killed in the House

Requires rehearings and appeals of human rights commission decisions to be held by the human rights commission, rather than in the courts.

Killed in the House

Expands the jurisdiction of the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights to hear cases involving civil rights and civil liberty issues.

Passed House

Resolution that condemns "hate crime and any other form of conduct that constitutes racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination based on disability, age, marriage, familial status, sexuality or gender discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus contrary to law in the state of New Hampshire."

Passed House

Resolution affirming that the House and Senate "reject hate, bigotry, and violence in all their forms."

Signed by Governor

Prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

Tabled in the Senate

Makes various changes to the laws governing the state Commission for Human Rights. For example, this bill adds "gender identity" to the state's equal opportunity housing law.

Killed in the House

Adds sexual reassignment to the definition of child abuse.

Killed in the House

Prohibits gender reassignment surgery on persons under age eighteen.

Tabled in the House

Prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

Signed by Governor

Prohibits conversion therapy for anyone under age eighteen. Conversion therapy attempts to change a person's sexual orientation.

Killed in the House

Prohibits conversion therapy for anyone under age eighteen. Conversion therapy attempts to change a person's sexual orientation.

Died in Conference Committee

Prohibits persons licensed to provide counseling services to engage in conversion therapy with a person under 18 years of age.

Interim Study

Constitutional amendment prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Signed by Governor

Requires New Hampshire to recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state, and makes various legal terms gender-neutral.

Killed in the House

Establishes a religious exemption for individuals who do not wish to provide accommodations, goods, or services for same-sex marriages.

Killed in the House

Prohibits same-sex marriage.

Killed in the House

Establishes that the state will only recognize domestic unions between one man and one woman.

Killed in the House

Establishes "domestic unions" as an alternative to marriage.

Killed in the House

Constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Killed in the House

Repeals same-sex marriage.

Signed by Governor

Legalizes same-sex marriage.

Should NH increase legal protections based on LGBTQ status?

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Issue Status

The Legislature has passed a bill that makes it easier to change the gender on your birth certificate, and another that allows drivers to choose what gender to indicate on their licenses. That bill also creates an "X" option on licenses for people who do not identify as either male or female.

The House passed a bill that would include gender identity in all of the state's anti-discrimination laws. This expands on the law passed in 2018.

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