New Hampshire becomes sixth state to approve gay marriage

New Hampshire became the sixth state in the nation Wednesday to legalize gay marriage, leaving supporters thrilled and foes promising a battle through the polling place. Gov. John Lynch signed the bill into law late in the afternoon after the House and the Senate passed a compromise bill that included legal protections for churches and other religious organizations. It also clarified that religious groups which provide charitable or educational services do not to have to extend insurance benefits to same-sex partners of employees. “We weren’t surprised with the outcome,” Kevin Smith, executive director of advocacy group Cornerstone Policy Research which opposes gay marriage, told Everyday Christian. “When you get to vote 12 times with five different versions of the same bill this will happen. They finally got the vote they wanted. “There is some consolation that these issues of religious liberties were considered because prior to this debate they weren’t being brought up. It was clear all along this was going to keep coming up until the bill was passed.” Lynch, who initially said he opposed same-sex marriage, changed his views to look at the issue from a social equality angle. “This legislation makes clear that we understand that certain faiths do not recognize same-sex marriage, and it protects them from having to participate in marriage-related activities that violate their fundamental religious principles,” Lynch said, according to the Associated Press. The decision was also lauded by Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson. Robinson is the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, the church’s only openly gay bishop. His appointment created fracture and debate the Anglican Church, including the defection of some conservative churches. “A lot of New Hampshire families have come to know people in their families who are gay — co-workers, former classmates — and that’s what really made this difference,” Robinson told AP. “We are no longer talking about an issue. We are talking about people.” Similarly, the president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation told The New York Times that New Hampshire’s approval is the continuation of a trend. “As people get to know the loving and committed couples at the heart of marriage equality our culture is moving to equality,” said GLAD president Neil G. Giuliano. Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) has openly strategized to have all six New England states have approved gay marriage by 2012. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and Iowa have legalized gay marriage prior to New Hampshire. California briefly allowed it last year before ballot initiative Proposition 8 overturned it. Prop 8 was upheld by the California Supreme Court last week, although the marriages which took place last summer are legally recognized. Smith said the strategy for showing opposition through voting is two-fold. First, Cornerstone will work toward getting gay marriage as a question on town ballots this fall. While results will be non-binding, Smith is hoping results will back up polling data the organization has done showing the majority of state voters opposed to gay marriage. Then, in 2010, the entire state legislature and Lynch will be up for re-election. “With the town ballots, it finally gives voters a chance to have their say and it keeps the issue on the front burner as we head toward the elections the next fall,” Smith said. He will also be watching the debate in nearby Maine, where petition signatures are being gathered to prompt a statewide referendum either this fall or next June. “I can tell you that when people here see that Maine gets to have a say on this and we don’t, they will not be pleased,” he said. National organizations opposed to gay marriage also expressed dismay to the New Hampshire decision. “The legislature’s action is disappointing,” said Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, told Everyday Christian. “The definition of marriage remains non-negotiable for the vast majority of Americans. And while the debate in New Hampshire over the lack of religious liberty protections in a same-sex marriage bill revealed the dangers to the First Amendment rights of its citizens from this law, the actual language added to the bill is pitifully ineffective.” “Now, not only will the new law create family situations where children will be deprived of either a mother or a father, its citizens are being deprived of significant First Amendment rights as well.” Links: Cornerstone Policy Research: http://www.nhcornerstone.org/index.htm GLAD: http://www.glad.org/ Focus on the Family: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/

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  1. boarderthom said:

    While talking about gay marriage, Dick Cheney said, “Freedom is for everyone”. One could nitpick that one and say it is not for convicted murderers (yet, surprisingly enough, one of the Menendez brothers got legally married in prison a while back ago and he is serving life in prison).

    June 4, 2009
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