Lynch Will Sign Marriage…. IF

Timothy Kincaid

May 14th, 2009

The AP is reporting,

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch says he will sign a bill to make his state the sixth to legalize gay marriage, but only if it strengthens protections for churches opposed to gay marriage.

He says that the current protections should be beefed up to equal those of Connecticut and Vermont.

The language in HB 436 regarding protections is as follows:

457:37 Affirmation of Freedom of Religion in Marriage. Members of the clergy as described in RSA 457:31 or other persons otherwise authorized under law to solemnize a marriage shall not be obligated or otherwise required by law to officiate at any particular civil marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of their right to free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or by part I, article 5 of the New Hampshire constitution.

There is a follow-up bill, HB 310, which provides as follows:

457:31-b Solemnization of Marriage; Applicability.

I. Nothing contained in this chapter shall affect the right of Jewish Rabbis residing in this state, or of the people called Friends or Quakers, to solemnize marriages in the way usually practiced among them, and all marriages so solemnized shall be valid. Jewish Rabbis residing out of the state may obtain a special license as provided by RSA 457:32.

II. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit a person authorized to solemnize a marriage in a religious ceremony from solemnizing a marriage in a civil ceremony.

7 Affirmation of Freedom of Religion in Marriage. Amend RSA 457:37 to read as follows:

457:37 Affirmation of Freedom of Religion in Marriage.

I. Members of the clergy as described in RSA 457:31 or other persons otherwise authorized under law to solemnize a marriage shall not be obligated or otherwise required by law to officiate at any particular civil marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of their right to free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or by part I, article 5 of the New Hampshire constitution.

II. No 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 be required to participate in a ceremony solemnizing marriage in violation of the religious beliefs of such organization, association, or society.

Taken in combination, the only protections in the Connecticut or Vermont legislation that do not appear to be explicitly stated here is whether such organizations are obligated to provide goods or services (e.g. a hall). I’ve no objection to such a clarification.

UPDATE:

Lynch has proposed his own specific language.

“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,” Lynch said. “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 do not yet have the specific proposed language.

UPDATE 2:

From Reuters:

The governor’s suggested changes would make clear that religious groups would not be required to perform gay weddings if their beliefs prohibited it, and that they would not be held liable in court for refusing such services.

The language would also make clear that social groups and other organizations affiliated with religious entities did not have to provide benefits to gay couples.

UPDATE 3:

New York Times says

Legislative leaders indicated they would allow the changes, making it all but certain that New Hampshire will become the sixth state to allow marriage between gay couples.

“New Hampshire\’s great tradition has always been to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections,” Mr. Lynch, a Democrat, said in a statement. “But following that tradition means we must act to protect both the liberty of same-sex couples and religious liberty.”

Chad

May 14th, 2009

It’s so ridiculous that these politicians are so concerned about something that would never be a problem, but if it gives them a convenient way to support gay marriage and still try to make it appear they’re sticking up for religious social conservative voters, then maybe it’s for the good. However, I am still worried that such “guarantees” will in the long run only give gay marriage opponents something tangible to cite as they keep spreading the lie that governments would force clergy and religious institutions to condone gay marriage.

John

May 14th, 2009

Depending upon the specific language he is seeking to be put into the bill, I don’t a problem with this. Do it.

gar

May 14th, 2009

I think it’s great that language specifying that churches don’t have to perform gay weddings if they don’t want to is being included in these law. Now we’ll see what excuses the phobes come up with.

occono

May 14th, 2009

I think it’s about more than Churches: I think this allows public-funded but religious-owned organisations or venues to not have to serve gay people or couples.

Brenda

May 14th, 2009

I am not sure if you noticed something, but in Update #2 it states that any religious organization or social group, blah, blah, blah does not have to provide benefits to gay couples. Now, when I read the above amendments it sounds like the Knights of Columbus, for instance do not have to provide a hall for a reception. But when I read the update it sounds like a place affiliated with a religious group say, St. Peters Hospital does not have to provide health benefits to gay couples. Now while I don’t agree with either one, the second one is horrible. Gay people work at catholic hospitals too. They deserve to have their marriage recognized and their spouse receive benefits. Also, if the Knights of Columbus provide the hall to the public, I don’t care what they believe, they can’t pick and choose which public they allow. That amendment is discriminatory and to allow it is a farce.

homer

May 14th, 2009

What happens if a gay couple get into a car accident and are taken to a Catholic-owned hospital (e.g. the Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH). Can the hospital refuse to recognize their marriage?

Ephilei

May 14th, 2009

That would depend on the language. My gut is that the legislature would not write language like that.

Clever move by the gov. He gets credit for standing up for gay rights and religious liberty.

Eddie89

May 14th, 2009

Still, I think that the religious extremists will still attack him for being pro-gay.

The good part is that the “majority” will see him as fair and balanced.

By doing so, this will expose the religious extremists and their anti-gay bigotry for what it really is, bigotry.

Eddie89

May 14th, 2009

Looks like the additional “protections” for religious orgs. has more to do with the marriage “ceremony” than for things outside of a marriage ceremony, I.E. being in an accident and taken to a Methodist hospital That has nothing to do with a marriage ceremony so no, they would not be given a legal choice to turn someone away because they are gay.

See this article:
NH gov will sign gay marriage bill if it’s changed

jOHN

May 14th, 2009

I am wondering if anyone is putting these people that want this wording added to the task of explaining the need for this when there is the seperation of Church and State? I would like to hear an explination as to why they are feeling it is necessary. Especially Mr. Lynch who is making such a big issue of having this added. I would like to hear him explain his reasoning other then playing to both sides!

Bruno

May 14th, 2009

The guy is pretty shrewd, and I think was even rather thoughtful before committing to this legislation. I respect him, and I don’t *think* these changes will do us any harm in the future. In any case, we’ll see where it takes us, and I applaud Gov. Lynch.

Strepsi

May 14th, 2009

I dunno Bruno — what does this mean then? “The language would also make clear that social groups and other organizations affiliated with religious entities did not have to provide benefits to gay couples.”

Where the Religious wingnuts have no traction — at least I hope not — is to refuse to perform duties relating to CIVIL marriage. We saw this in CA with county clerks etc. refusing to stamp licenses on “religious grounds”. That can NOT be allowed.

Matt

May 14th, 2009

Chad,I see this as just the opposite.Now when the argument comes up, we can point to this legislation and say, “Here’s specific language that SPECIFICALLY SAYS that churches won’t be forced to perform marriages for people they don’t want to”. Looks like the governor has found a way to have his communion wafer and eat it to, if you’ll pardon the expression.

My question is, since the bill looks like it’s being sent back to the legislature, do they have to start all over again on this?

Jeff

May 14th, 2009

I found Gov. Lynch’s proposed changes here, from the Union Leader:
http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Text+of+Gov.+Lynch%27s+proposed+change+in+same-sex+marriage+bill&articleId=943f51bd-21ed-43e0-bace-0b5c76b7272b

Zeke

May 14th, 2009

It’s official!

We have a full fledged TIDAL WAVE on our hands!

I don’t mind the language. It’s redundant anyway since it just restates the current constitutional protections churches already have to not marry ANY two people that they don’t want to.

Six down and, I suspect, at least two more, New York and New Jersey, before the end of the year.

Then Rhode Island really will be isolated and will look backwards.

Bruno

May 14th, 2009

The wording reads exactly as follows regarding benefits:

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

I read that to mean that a group like Knights of Columbus, who offers health insurance to its members, wouldn’t have to offer health insurance to a gay member’s legal spouse. But then again, I think the Knights of Columbus probably could already legally refuse to have a gay member, as the laws stand. I don’t think this changes much of anything, just screams it louder.

Tara TASW

May 14th, 2009

That’s a disturbing little wedge. Of course no clergy etc should be forced to perform marriages (and none ever have). But denying health insurance? Even if it starts with “fraternal benefit organizations,” it could easily mushroom into hosptials, social service organizations, etc, refusing to respect the rights of same-sex married couples.

Bruno

May 14th, 2009

Tara: I’m not talking about an org like the Knights offering employee benefits…these are benefits to its organizational members. I would think if the Knights employed, say, an administrative assistant, they would have to afford that person and their spouse benefits regardless of gender, by New Hampshire law. But if it’s simply a “church member” or in this case an organizational member, then they don’t have to. It’s a rather rare thing we’re talking about here anyway.

Brian Torwelle

May 15th, 2009

What I’m wondering now is if they should also add that gay marriage won’t be required to be taught in schools to further ease people’s minds. I’d be foe that just to get the opponents to shut up.

staci

May 15th, 2009

If this language needs to be there in order for states to pass same sex marriage legistlation, then I am all for it. It doesn’t change anything.

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