New Hampshire continues to surprise.

Not so many years ago, under the provincial leadership of governors like (King) John Sununu and Judd Gregg, Martin Luther King was still considered a traitor and a Communist. Now, as New Hampshire gradually turns more moderate and Democratic, we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday along with the rest of the nation.

Another “hot button” issue that never would have made it to the State House floor years ago, much less become law, is civil unions. Thanks to new Democratic leadership from Governor John Lynch and Democratic majorities in both houses of our legislature, civil unions became legal as of midnight last night.

One of the leaders in passing the civil unions law and arranging the ceremonies on the State House steps last night is Gail Morrison, state representative from Sanbornton.

Gail is not only a terrific woman, she shows the quiet leadership and political smarts needed to make things happen in this state on a wide range of issues. Gail and her partner, Pauline, made their 35-year relationship “legal” under the new civil unions law. She also officiated at the ceremony for local couple Jen Major and Kelley Morris of Gilmanton.

Jen and Kelley have been in a relationship for close to five years and Jen was one of the organizers of the Concord event. Kelley, as some of you might know, is the songwriting and singing talent behind “Kelley Morris and the Fallen Free,” a very talented group that plays frequently in the Lakes Region area. Kelley was also a finalist on the Community Auditions program which ran on cable TV recently.

To all the couples who participated in last night’s event: Rake salutes you for your commitment to each other, your courage in being true New Hampshire pioneers, and for the added strength you bring to our communities.

Best wishes to all!