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Weird, str8 atheists have been civilly marrying for eons without special stipulations

by Jeremy Hooper

Since the lines between civil marriage and religious ceremony are clearly laid out, and since no gay activist -- NO gay activist -- is seeking to force religious institutions into solemnizing or recognizing same-sex unions (notwithstanding under circumstances like tax breaks that are granted on the basis of equal access), we see Gov. Lynch's proposed changes as superfluous.  But if this is what it will take to get the New Hampshire guv to rock out with his John Hancock out, then we'll get behind his explanation and new language: 

“My personal views on the subject of marriage have been shaped by my own experience, tradition and upbringing. But as Governor of New Hampshire, I recognize that I have a responsibility to consider this issue through a broader lens.

“In the past weeks and months, I have spoken with lawmakers, religious leaders and citizens. My office has received thousands of phone calls, letters and emails. I have studied our current marriage and civil union laws, the laws of other states, the bills recently passed by the legislature and our history and traditions.

“Two years ago, we passed civil unions legislation here in New Hampshire. That law gave same-sex couples in civil unions the same rights and protections as marriage. And in typical New Hampshire fashion, the people of this state embraced civil unions and agreed we needed to continue our tradition of opposing discrimination.

“At its core, HB 436 simply changes the term ‘civil union’ to ‘civil marriage.’ Given the cultural, historical and religious significance of the word marriage, this is a meaningful change.

“I have heard, and I understand, the very real feelings of same-sex couples that a separate system is not an equal system. That a civil law that differentiates between their committed relationships and those of heterosexual couples undermines both their dignity and the legitimacy of their families.

“I have also heard, and I understand, the concerns of our citizens who have equally deep feelings and genuine religious beliefs about marriage. They fear that this legislation would interfere with the ability of religious groups to freely practice their faiths.

“Throughout history, our society’s views of civil rights have constantly evolved and expanded. New Hampshire’s great tradition has always been to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections.

“That is what I believe we must do today.

“But following that tradition means we must act to protect both the liberty of same-sex couples and religious liberty. In their current form, I do not believe these bills accomplish those goals.

“The Legislature took an important step by clearly differentiating between civil and religious marriage, and protecting religious groups from having to participate in marriage ceremonies that violate their fundamental religious beliefs.

“But the role of marriage in many faiths extends beyond the actual marriage ceremony.

“I have examined the laws of other states, including Vermont and Connecticut, which have recently passed same-sex marriage laws. Both go further in protecting religious institutions than the current New Hampshire legislation.

“This morning, I met with House and Senate leaders, and the sponsors of this legislation, and gave them language that will provide additional protections to religious institutions.

“This new language will provide the strongest and clearest protections for religious institutions and associations, and for the individuals working with such institutions.
It will make clear that they cannot be forced to act in ways that violate their deeply held religious principles.

“If the legislature passes this language, I will sign the same-sex marriage bill into law. If the legislature doesn’t pass these provisions, I will veto it.

“We can and must treat both same-sex couples and people of certain religious traditions with respect and dignity.

“I believe this proposed language will accomplish both of these goals and I urge the legislature to pass it.

READ THE PROPOSED NEW LANGUAGE AT LINK: Gov. Lynch Statement Regarding Same-Sex Marriage Legislation [Gov. Lynch]

The legislature is expected to go along with the changes, perhaps as soon as next week. The most annoying part?  The people who this new language is meant to most appease are guaranteed to still rage, perhaps as soon as this very second.

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Your thoughts

"The most annoying part? The people who this new language is meant to most appease are guaranteed to still rage, perhaps as soon as this very second."

How true...how sad.

(Oh, and congratulations your marriage license!)

Posted by: Bob Miller | May 14, 2009 10:16:28 PM

If it stops the worrying of people closer to the middle who would otherwise listen to the ragings of the extremists, they might as well put it in. Still pisses me off, but what matters is we're getting it.

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | May 15, 2009 12:32:43 AM

If it makes him happy, do it. It's still stupid. Minnesota has a DOMA on the books, but the government couldn't prevent our church from marrying my husband and me. If our church could not be forced to not marry us, a government cannot force s church to do something it doesn't want to do.

Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | May 15, 2009 8:52:49 AM

Reading the new language makes my stomach turn. It's cowardly excrement, but if it's what they need, it's really not too much of a concession. If we ask to use the church basement or something and they're gonna go and make a big stink about it, I don't think we'll be too heartbroken.. smells like eggs and lysol down there, anyway.

Posted by: JeffRob | May 15, 2009 10:27:12 AM

I read those stipulations last night, and initially I thought it might not be that bad. None of us want to force any church to officiate our ceremonies. But I think that it might go beyond that.. or at least seems to be attempting to go beyond that. The language (which might not withstand a court challenge) seems to place the religious exemption above any other laws on the books in terms of being able to deny services to same-sex married couples.

That beach pavilion case, for example, where denying accommodation to a same-sex couple might have gone the other way iff a similar law had been on their books, and that couple had been wanting to get married. "Notwithstanding" with regard to other anti-discrimination laws, effectively seeks to preempt any existing anti-discrimination laws. And, the same could be true with the Catholic Chastises (sp?) adoption case.

It could be an attempt to codify the carte blanche that the hating-haters want.

Posted by: Dick Mills | May 15, 2009 5:10:55 PM

Okay, no. He's basically saying that he'll only let us be equal citizens in this country if religions get free rein to do whatever they want without legal backlashes. No. For one thing, I'm convinced that this violates the separation of church and state somehow, and secondly, since when do civil liberties only exist on the basis of religious...anything?

Religions already have the protection to do whatever they want as long as it doesn't harm anybody. Actually, in some cases, they have more than that. I've heard of 5 different children who've died from treatable illness that their parents refused based on religion, just this past month.

I read the thing, I what it says to me is that he'll trade us our rights if churches can deny us the expression of those rights. That's like saying "You can vote, but only people we like can vote here. You have to do it somewhere else."

I understand that analogy reaches a bit, but that's basically what it is. And besides, how does our gaining civil (legal) marriage in anyway force them to hold marriage ceremonies for us? It doesn't.

Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe I'm reading too much into this. Actually, I'd bet I am, but something about his new 'language' makes me want to throw up. Something just feels wrong here.

I'd just like to see him try to defend this if you replace 'gay' with 'Chinese' or 'female'.

Posted by: Demented | May 16, 2009 4:22:39 AM

The most important thing is, same-sex couples would now have the same STATE benefits and protections as straight couples. Meaning, health insurance benefits, tax benefits, etc.--all the things that matter on a day-to-day basis. If an organization doesn't let a gay couple use their space or facilities, it would be an insult for sure: but frankly, would that couple want to give their money and their business to those a$$holes in the first place? I for one would be very happy if someone would feel comfortable telling me they hate me and don't want my wedding on their property, since now that I know their true opinion I can rip them a new one and then give my business to a place that does consider me a human being. This is America, not the USSR. We have tremendous choice in what goods we buy, where we buy them, and for how much; if you don't want to cater for my gay wedding, there's another place in 2 blocks that will. The organizations that realise this obvious fact will rightfully benefit from the additional business of marrying gay couples. The bigots won't.

Posted by: Mariya | May 19, 2009 2:25:55 PM

As I read the wording Gov. Lynch wants inserted, any hospital run by or affiliated by a religious organization can deny access of married, same sex persons to their spouses' rooms, medical records, perhaps to act as their healthcare durable power of attorney, custody of remains, etc. Such an exclusion violates the Constitution;s mandate for equal treatment under the law. If a private, religious-affiliated institution accepts any state funds for any purpose, this insertion would appear to place that institution's legitimacy above that of the state of NH.

Perhaps there is a process for obtaining an injunction against modifying legislation already passed by both houses of the NH legislature, thereby forcing Lynch's hand to veto the bill as passed.

I personally like the designation of "civil marriage" if applied to all marriages recognized as legal in a state. What I cannot support is a state delegating its legal authority to religious persons for state-recognized marriages. That delegation is, to me, the clear violation of showing preference to a religion over the state in all legal matters.

Posted by: PeterSM | May 21, 2009 11:15:04 PM

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