Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Can They Do It This Time???

The same-sex marriage bill is up for a vote AGAIN in the New Hampshire, and just like those moments in Bullwinkle cartoons when Rocky the Squirrel says, "But that trick never works!"... you got believe the moose when he says, "This time, fer sure!"

Here's the Boston Herald's breakdown of the history of this legislation:

For three months, the gay marriage story in New Hampshire has been one of near death followed quickly by revival. In its first test in March, the gay marriage bill failed by one vote in the House but was revived and sent to the Senate where it wasn’t expected to pass.
But at the last minute, Senate Democrats rallied around an amended bill, passing it by one vote. Last month, the House approved the changes along with a second bill fixing technical problems with the main bill.
Together the two bills would establish civil and religious marriage licenses. They also would allow each party to the marriage to be identified as bride, groom or spouse. Same-sex couples united by civil unions in the past year would automatically be assumed to have a "civil marriage."
They would allow churches to decide whether to conduct religious marriages for same-sex couples. Civil marriages would be available to both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
Opponents counted on Democratic Gov. John Lynch to veto the bills, but Lynch — who opposes gay marriage — surprised them by announcing he would sign the legislation if lawmakers passed expanded protections for churches, their employees and religious groups. Lynch’s language, modeled after Connecticut’s law, had to be put into a third bill because it was too late to amend the two bills that had passed.
Lynch also said he would veto gay marriage if the law didn’t clearly spell out that churches and religious groups would not be forced to officiate at gay marriages or to provide services, facilities and goods of any kind to participants.
Two weeks ago, Democrats pushed Lynch’s language in the third bill through the Senate, but it failed by two votes in the House. The House refused to let the issue die and instead asked the Senate to negotiate a compromise.
Last Friday, House and Senate negotiators agreed to add 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 clarifies 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. The earlier version said "charitable and educational" instead of "charitable or educational."
The changes amount to slightly stronger language than what Lynch proposed, and the governor approves of the revisions.

COMMENT: OK, if this doesn't make everybody happy, I don't know what else they can do! I am amazed that there needs to be this whole exception made for religious institutions, which are already very well-protected. Groups that oppose the LGBT community have spread fear about churches that have faced lawsuits when they don't treat LGBT people equally. The truth behind those lawsuits is that the church, which receives tax exemptions, has made some portion of its property open to the public... unless you happen to be "that" public (this is the 2006 case involving the Methodist Church and its boardwalk in New Jersey). There is the case of Catholic Charities in Boston that stopped doing adoptions because the Commonwealth of Massachusetts said they couldn't place children exclusively with heterosexual parents. And no, if you are placing kids in the STATE foster care system, and the STATE doesn't discriminate, neither can you.

Regardless, this is the comfort language necessary to make everybody happy. I hope that at the end of today, I will have yet another reason to smile about my native state.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let's hope so...I am waiting as you are. This is a typical NH legislature.