CONCORD, N.H. -- As Massachusetts prepares to allow gay couples to marry tomorrow, New Hampshire's same-sex couples are treading a fine balance of celebration, caution, and determination.
"We're happy for them. It's not so much a direct victory for us," said Brian Rater, head of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, which lobbied unsuccessfully for same-sex marriage recognition.
That, along with Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's decision to unearth an arcane residency law, have momentarily put the brakes on some couples' marriage hopes.
Nevertheless, same-sex couples in New Hampshire are staying positive.
Tomorrow night they will celebrate Massachusetts' victory with a banquet in Concord. There will be music, chicken dijon, and a cake -- adorned with two brides and two grooms.
"Our own celebration is probably another couple of years off," Rater said. "We're mostly celebrating, because we know that these people have worked very hard and they've won a tremendous victory, and we're very happy for them," Rater said.
"I wish it were happening all over the US and all over the world," said Ed Butler, a coalition member who runs an inn in the White Mountains with his partner, Les Schoof. They're bringing the cake tomorrow.
"As a member of a minority . . . you learn that discrimination is a part of your life, and that you have to take your successes and achievements as they come," Butler said. "This one is very powerful and wonderful. It's unfortunate that it's not in New Hampshire, but it's still a great achievement."
With Vermont granting civil unions, and Massachusetts ushering in the first legal same-sex marriages in the nation, New Hampshire's conservative policy on gay marriage stands out from its neighbors.
In the weeks since the state Senate voted against gay-marriage, groups in New Hampshire have been grappling with how best to respond -- should couples try their luck in Somerville and Provincetown in Massachusetts, where clerks have said they won't be enforcing the proof-of-residency clause? Or should they hold out until they're sure their marriages will be recognized, no matter which state they live in?
For now, couples say they're not giving up on New Hampshire.
"New Hampshire is our home and it's were we live. It's where our life is," said Beth McGuinn, a Hopkinton resident.