I had delayed in posting on New Hsmpshire’s recognition of same-sex marriages, thinking that I might have something profound and original to say, but (in past posts on legislative recognition of gay marriage), I’ve pretty much said everything I have to say about this.
I could go on about the hyperbolic language of the releases that have cluttered my e-mail boxes. It seems that most gay organizations don’t understand the meaning of the words “freedom” and “legal.” (It seems they believe you need some kind of government imprimatur to be free.)
When the folks at Freedom (sic) to Marry announce that New Hampshire Becomes Sixth State to Embrace Freedom to Marry, it almost sounds like people who had previously gotten married in the Granite State had to hide their unions lest they be persecuted. The same holds for those who announce that it’s now “legal” for gays to wed in New Hampshire. You mean, they had been jailed in the past for getting married?
All that said, I am pleased with the way things progressed in New Hampshire, particularly pleased with the final result for the same reasons I was pleased with the processes in Vermont and Maine. In the Granite State, we really saw the benefit of the legislative process. There, instead of judges announcing a decision in accordance with the court calender, there was a real back-and-forth between the elected Governor and the elected members of the legislature. The Framers would have been pleased at that deliberative process. If people don’t like the result, they can hold their representatives accountable at the ballot box.
Governor John Lynch, an opponent of gay marriage, opposed the initial bill because of his concerns that it might not protect the liberty of churches to define marriage according to their creed. But, when he vetoed the initial legislation, he proposed a compromise, asking for language spelling out “that churches and religious groups would not be forced to officiate at gay marriages or provide other services. Legislators made the changes“:
The revised bill added a sentence specifying that all religious organizations, associations or societies have exclusive control over their religious doctrines, policies, teachings and beliefs on marriage.
It also clarified that church-related organizations that serve charitable or educational purposes are exempt from having to provide insurance and other benefits to same-sex spouses of employees.
As we see, this process allowed the law-making body to address citizens’ concerns.
There’s something else in this process which could help advance gay marriage in other states. Advocates can show how they persuaded a gay marriage opponent (Lynch) to sign a bill recognizing same-sex marriage. With the appropriate religious liberty provisions in the statutes they propose, they may be able to persuade other such opponents.
And so I end on the subject of my next post (planned before I had learned of the good news from the Granite State.)