While the manner in which the New Hampshire Senate passed a bill recognizing same-sex marriages left much to be desired (perhaps all lawmaking leaves much to be desired), there is much to cheer about this process.
But undecided Democratic Senators secured concessions in the form of amendments in return for their commitments to vote in favor the bill during private meetings on Tuesday night. The key amendment would allow churches to refuse to conduct a same-sex marriage.
While many gay marriage advocates assure us that state recognition of gay marriage will preserve religious freedom, given the eagerness of courts to mandate “equality,” many social conservatives are understandably wary. That’s why it’s important to include a provision protecting the rights of religious institutions to refuse to conduct marriage ceremonies that do not conform with their particular creed.
It would be nice as well if as Vermont, this bill barred “civil lawsuits against religious groups that refuse to provide goods or services to same-sex weddings.”
That said, inclusion of that religious-freedom amendment shows the merits of going through elected legislatures.