Gay couples in New Hampshire could be hitching up with the old ball and chain as early as January.

Couples who enter civil unions will have the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as married couples. Same-sex unions from other states also would be recognized if they were legal in the state where they were performed.

“I’ve listened and I’ve heard all the arguments,” said (Gov. John) Lynch, a Democrat. “I do not believe that this bill threatens marriage. I believe that this is a matter of conscience and fairness.”

Not only does gay marriage not threaten marriage. I think there’s a fair argument that civil unions support marriage by encouraging a whole new group of citizens to pair off for eternity.