Thursday, May 14, 2009

NH Governor Lynch to Sign Marriage Equality Bill. NH Sixth State to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage!

New Hampshire will now be the sixth state to recognize marriage equality! It now joins Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and Maine.

Gov. Lynch does want to make a few changes to bill. He wants to add the extra protections for religious institutions that were in the Vermont and Connecticut legislation.

The Nashua Telegraph reports: "The suggested change would only give a legal protection to individuals working directly for a religious organization or an entity that a religious group owns or controls. The change, for example, would not permit a self-employed photographer or caterer to refuse to work because a same-sex marriage ceremony violated their own religious beliefs."

The changes are slight and practically already in the bill.

Here is the governor's full statement:
CONCORD - Gov. John Lynch released the following statement today regarding same-sex legislation in New Hampshire:

“The gay marriage debate in New Hampshire has been filled with passion and emotion on all sides.

“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.
Below is the language Gov. Lynch has proposed for the same Sex legislation.


“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.

# # #

I. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious organization, association, or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges to an individual if such request for such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges is related to the solemnization of a marriage, the celebration of a marriage, or the promotion of marriage through religious counseling, programs, courses, retreats, or housing designated for married individuals, and such solemnization, celebration, or promotion of marriage is in violation of their religious beliefs and faith. Any refusal to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges in accordance with this section shall not create any civil claim or cause of action or result in any state action to penalize or withhold benefits from such religious organization, association or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society.

II. The marriage laws of this state shall not be construed to affect the ability of a fraternal benefit society to determine the admission of members pursuant to RSA 418:5, and shall not require a fraternal benefit society that has been established and is operating for charitable and educational purposes and which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization to provide insurance benefits to any person if to do so would violate the fraternal benefit society’s free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States and part 1, article 5 of the Constitution of New Hampshire

III. Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed or construed to limit the protections and exemptions provided to religious organizations under RSA § 354-A:18.

IV. Repeal. RSA 457-A, relative to civil unions, is repealed effective January 1, 2011, except that no new civil unions shall be established after January 1, 2010.
Let's see if President Obama can keep his silence now!


  1. An escape clause, basically.

    Whatever, let the legislature agree to it and have the Gov sign. The ACLU will eventually challenge the amendment, declaring the language vague and discriminatory and the courts will have throw the amednment out.

  2. Timothy Kincaid is basically saying the changes are minor. Beefing up. Whatever will get him to sign the damn thing.

    But you're right. If it's offering too much protection to allow discrimination, the ACLU will definitely have work on their hands.

  3. This is another indication that the face of our country is changing. Not for better or worse.

    I believe that the institution of marriage should be reserved for a man/woman relationship but it appears that more than a few governors don't believe the same thing. I accept it, move on, and realize that many are liberated by this legislation.

    I feel that my home state of NJ may be the next to enact same same-sex legislation.

    Even though I don't necessarily agree I applaud these governors for standing up for what they believe in. With any mass movement it's always the first few that have to make the toughest s because they are subject to the most criticism.


  4. Ryan,
    Thank you very much for your respectful response. Though we may not agree on everything about marriage, you are always welcome to come back and voice your opinion in this manner.

    What this nation needs is a healthy discussion on this issue. If only all could keep the same tone as you, we may actually accomplish something.

    And I agree. These governors are making brave decisions in the face of brutal opposition. I applaud them. They were able to look beyond their own beliefs and put themselves in other people's shoes.

    No easy task.