NH Legislature Reaches Compromise on Same-Sex Marriage

A Senate and House committee in New Hampshire agreed on language changes to marriage equality legislation following requests by Governor John Lynch that the bills add additional religious protections:

Nh "The new version, which is expected
to come up for a vote Wednesday, adds 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."

One senator, Sheila Roberge, was removed from the committee after offering three substitute proposals which were rejected. Roberge proposed a voters referendum and a delay of the date the legislation would take effect from January 2010 to July 2011.


  1. Terry says

    This is great news, but….

    All of this latitude…all of this concern for religious freedom and churches in same-sex marriage equality . Why can’t THEY just mind their own business when it comes to secular same-sex marriages?

  2. gabriel says

    TERRY – I kind of agree. I mean, I’m glad this is moving forward but saying they can deny benefits to same-sex partners, etc just kinda sucks to me. On the other hand, why would I want to work for an organization that clearly spends so much time hating on me and my life (I know that isn’t the point, but that is the reality).

  3. Tom says

    So, what about hospital visitation rights? Would same-sex couples actually have to avoid health service providers that are associated with bigoted religious organizations?

  4. Bruno says

    I’m hoping that the bloc of people who changed their votes and helped vote down the bill last week aren’t concerned at all with the language but just wanted to usurp Lynch’s power in the matter. That’s my feeling anyway, but we’ll see on Wednesday. I expect we’ll hear some reactions to the new language before then.

  5. Dan says

    Are churches allowed to discriminate on the basis of race or gender? Though I understand the rationale behind this law, I hate to think a special exemption is being granted these institutions. I mean, can a church limit membership to whites only?

  6. busytimmy says

    Many churches, particularly Catholic, provide social services to the general public. Some are contracted by the state and others run hospitals, etc. This seems like a dangerous concession.

  7. DD says

    I’m not a lawyer, esp. in NH state law, but from what I understand, the religious protection clause has only to do with marriage. Social services are not relevant to this bill.

  8. CK says

    Great… religions are now going to be legally allowed to discriminate! What? You know what… if this is what it will take, let’s just do it… these dinosaur gay-hating asswipes will be history soon enough. What self-respecting gay person would want to work for these fools when there are other worthy and amazing organizations to work for. Screw the bigoted… give them rope, they will hang themselves! Assholes!

  9. says

    Religions were always legally allowed to discriminate, CK. Hello, women and the priesthood. Let the bigots out themselves so equality-minded people know to avoid them.

  10. says

    That bill looks so messy legally that its only a matter of time until the religious provisions are watered down by the courts, or the bill is just ruled unconstitutional altogether.

  11. alex in boston says

    What is important here is that religious institutions have had language included which allows them TO DENY ANY BENEFITS to spouses of Same Sex marriage or Civil Unions. It is state sanctioned discrimination but unfortunately you won’t get one (Same Sex Marriage) without the other (state sanctioned discrimination)!!!!!

  12. Travis Colten Yocom says

    To hell with the religious rightists, I say. Gay people should refuse to work in such places. And I think it is high time that we as a secular society start to repeal the tax exempt status of all churches and their little ministry jackpots. We could probably pay down a good chunk of the national debt if churches were taxed… If they are going to meddle in my life, I want maximum pain in theirs. And nothing angers christians more than taxes!!! Pay to play, indeed…how about a starting rate of 65%? Do you think the fear and loathing of the Evil Sodomites would last long if the big churches were paying a 65% tax rate??? I think not.

  13. Joel says

    Well, just for the record, at one time blacks were second class members of the Mormon Church. Then somebody had a “revelation” and they were allowed full rights. Why any self-respecting black would have been a Mormon before full rights is a mystery, but the obvious answer is that they were not self-respecting.


    I think religious people need not worry – religion will always be a bastion of bigorty. Somebody has to be on the outside so those on the inside know that they are better.

  14. Iko says

    Let the bill pass, then sue the state for allowing religious discrimination. The religious fuckwits don’t realize that once they allow equal marriage, any discrepancy between the rights of a heterosexual and homosexual couple immediately represent an 14th amendment violation.

  15. andrew says

    I guess now they have permission to treat us like garbage, and the law will be on their side. No church can dare treat any other minority group like that and get away with it. none!. They respect other minorities, just not gays

  16. Tyler says

    Religions are able to discriminate against whoever they want. That’s their right as a religious organization, like it or not. Churches do not have to marry you say if one person is Jewish and the other is Catholic. And that’s fine, no church should have to perform my marriage that does not want to. I feel that this is pretty redundant to the original bill, but at the same time might ease the fears that some people have.

  17. Sargon Bighorn says

    This is so clearly a “separate but equal” legal situation I’m surprised a room full of law makers even considers it.

    Religious entities can discriminate against Gay Married couples but they can’t discriminate against Straight Married couples? I’ll give it 6 months before the first law suit is filed.

  18. Andalusian Dog says

    Just pass the bill, and keep the momentum going. The legally suspect aspects of this bill can be ironed out later. Even if they end up being the undoing of marriage equality in NH at some point down the road, the point is that we need to keep the momentum going to have other states follow suit, and eventually have the issue become a federal one. The more lawsuits brought against marriage equality on legal technicalities, the more it will force the issue to be decided by the U.S. Congress or the Supreme Court.

  19. Bruno says

    @Iko: And if there really is any added discrimination in this side bill, the NH courts could overturn it without overturning the main marriage bill.

  20. Jason Young says

    Churches are allowed to ban white, black, women, gay, etc members. Anti-discrimination laws do not apply to them due to church-state separation.

    In my hometown around the year 1995, there was a church who refused to baptize some multiracial children. The result was that they went from having the largest youth group in town to only those kids whose parents forbade them from attending other churches and they lost between 1/3 and 1/2 of their membership.

    Churches are allowed to discriminate in this manner but it is incredibly stupid for them to do so. There are consequences for discrimination outside of what the government may or may not do to them.

  21. Clay says

    Exemptions for churches were a substantial part of how gay marriage became legal in Canada. It took a lot of the wind out of the backlash. Remember that the point of this kind of tactical compromise is not to win over Reverend Bigot, but to calm down Joe and Jane Churchgoer. This makes it a lot harder for rabid fundies to convince ordinary people of faith that their way of life is under siege.

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  23. Ian says

    ABSOLUTELY Iko!! These f**ktards can’t discriminate if they are providing social service organizations, which usually have county or state contracts to provide said services.

  24. Steve says

    “””yes, there are black mormons, jackass. The stupidity on this board is mind-boggling.”””

    Last question was a joke. Don’t have to get too upset Mormon boy…

  25. kj says

    That’s ridiculous. If they get tax money, they can’t discriminate in employment or services provided. Pass it then start filing lawsuits.

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