New Hampshire House Panel Considers Bill Giving Christians ‘License to Discriminate’ Against Gays

New Hampshire HB 1264, which is being dubbed the "license to discriminate" bill, had a hearing before the Judiciary Committee yesterday, the Eagle Tribune reports:

NhThe bill would put an exemption in state marriage law. The proposed text says no person, including a business owner or employee, should be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for wedding services in "violation of the person's conscience or religious faith." The bill also would protect against lawsuits arising from refusal to provide those services. [The bill's sponsor Frank Sapareto (pictured, below)] acknowledged the sponsors oppose gay marriage. "Our definition of marriage is heterosexual," he said.

The bill's language:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person, including a business owner or employee thereof, shall be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges to an individual if the request is related to the solemnization, celebration, or promotion of a marriage and providing such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges would be a violation of the person’s conscience or religious faith. A person’s 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 person.

SaparetoThe bill is not expected to emerge from committee and face a House vote for a couple of weeks.

The paper adds:

Sponsors say they aren't confident the state adequately protects clergy from being forced to officiate at gay marriages. However, "clergy are covered explicitly in the original New Hampshire marriage law," as well as under the federal Constitution, Warbelow said.

Sapareto said he expects the legislative debate to be over whether the bill should protect businesses. "I think it should," he said. The bill would let caterers, wedding photographers and restaurants discriminate against couples, Warbelow said.

Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT writes: "Given the bill doesn’t even specify 'same-sex' marriage, it would hypothetically protect the right of 'conscience' to discriminate against any kind of marriage, including interracial, binational, and interdenominational couples. For this reason, it’s likely this bill would be preempted by the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, among other nondiscrimination statutes."


  1. Erich says

    Ugh. We realized separate but equal was flawed in 1954. Why the hell are we still having this discussion 60 plus years later.

  2. says

    As written it could also be used to discriminate against heterosexual marriages of the interracial, interfaith, international, inter-class, inter-whatever type; anything to which a religious person could possibly object.

    We must destroy marriage to save it.

  3. says

    If this kind of ‘license to discriminate’ passes, this fag is going to start discriminating against Christians. I’ve been tolerant, but tolerance has its limits.

  4. It's just my opinion says

    I actually do discriminate against Xians. I think they are stupid so I avoid them whenever possible. Especially the kind that have to decorate their cars with fish.

  5. Mark says

    More commonly, and relevantly in the case of Mr Gingrich, it could also be used to discriminate against 2nd, 3rd, etc. marriages.

  6. ChrisQ says

    I wonder if this means they plan to offer this red meat to the MaggieBigots of the world (and of NOM) rather than try to repeal the marriage law itself.

  7. J. Smith says

    Exactly Anastasia. Religion has been used to defend segregation and sexism. They are going back into the past again.

  8. Fodolodo says

    In a strange way, this is actually good news, in at least two respects.

    First, this is a state, we should remember, that’s trying to abolish marriage equality. If you think you are going to muster the votes for abolishing marriage equality, why would you try to bring up another controversial social issues bill to deal with the (purported) problems associated with marriage equality? A shift in tactics to expanding religious exemptions indicates some skepticism as to the prospects of repeal.

    Second, while this bill is way overbroad, it is much less overbroad than it could be. It lets people discriminate against same-sex couples when it comes to the celebration and solemnization of a marriage. It doesn’t let religious organizations just ignore the existence of a marriage, or otherwise let people deny spouses the benefits of marriage. The consequences of passing this would be bad, but not terrible. Given the extent of the Republican legislative majority in New Hampshire, I could live with that.

  9. says

    because what the country needs most are protections for Christians so they dont’ lose their Christian right to discriminate against non-Christians.


  10. Geoff Martin says

    They tried to pass a measure like this in Oregon in the early ’90’s. It failed, as did every other attempt tried during a decade, to discrimnate against LBGT-but only by a narrow margin.(Unfortunately a measure to define marriage between man/woman passed by ‘popular’ vote(Still standing). It’s reprehensible that this is still a topic for consideration-any political candidate in Europe running on a platform of anti-gay retoric would not be taken seriously and yet, here we are-still allowing this attitude to be a viable consideration.

  11. Javier says

    If you don’t want same-sex marriage repealed or stopped in more states, the only way forward is to compromise and appease concerns that gay marriage inevitably leads to the trampling of religious rights. Politically, you are not gonna get same-sex marriage in most states unless there is some bargaining away for religious rights to not provide services or recognition to same-sex couples.

  12. billy says

    There are already exemptions for religious folks (both in the marriage equality act and the federal constitution). This suggested bill is for lay people.

  13. TampaZeke says

    Will the idiot who told us, on another thread about a week ago, that New England Republicans were different and were socially progressive and gay positive please tell us again how North East Republicans are our friends!

  14. Greg says

    Unless I missed something in reading this, I don’t see the big deal. Why would I want to involve a business in my wedding if they find my wedding morally objectionable? Why give my money to a bigot? Most businesses already have the right to refuse services to anyone for any reason. So is the issue you all have with this is that it provides a legally defined exemption on religious grounds? That, as has been pointed out, could be used to discriminate against heterosexual marriages as well?

  15. Rich says

    The NH legislature is one of the largest legislative bodies in the world, with 400 members in the lower house–one per 3,000 residents! They have a disproportionate number of oddball members and a tendency to propose daffy laws, like the current one that would require every law to state its justification, not in the US or NH constitution, but in the Magna Carta (

  16. says

    “Most businesses already have the right to refuse services to anyone for any reason.”

    No, they don’t. Public businesses must abide by non-discrimination laws. This law seeks to ignore non-discrimination laws to specifically give religious or faux-religious people a pass to discriminate against gay people. No different than being allowed to hang out a No Blacks Allowed sign. What they’re not understanding, in their bigoted blindness, is that in creating such a law basically anyone could call on their “conscience” to discriminate against anyone else. So, in the unlikely event it passed and was found constitutional, the religious zealots might get a taste of their own medicine.

  17. sugarrhill says

    My only question is how are some commenters on this site going to blame this on Muslims, African Americans, and Latinos?

  18. Myself says

    I can’t think of a more offensive and simple minded title the author could have given to this article. I know you’re probably just trying to help gay rights, but by specifically targeting Christian people there ( which yes, christian people can love gays, and atheists hate them) you will get nowhere fast.