New Hampshire approves marriage equality
The New Hampshire legislature today narrowly approved an amendment to their gay marriage bill clarifying religious exemptions, and Gov. John Lynch signed it into law despite being personally against same-sex marriage. That makes New Hampshire the sixth state in the country to recognize gay marriages (seven if you count California, which later undid that change through a referendum). You can read all the details at The New York Times.
I was overwhelmed with the number of text messages I received, both informing me of the news and congratulating me on it. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who recognizes the importance of out-of-state politics on issues like this. But really, what seems particularly significant about this event is the lackluster response it’s received. When Massachusetts became the first state to recognize same-sex marriages, my friend woke me up with a phone call to break the news to me, and it was a huge media event. Today I had to search a bit to find the Times’ story on it, and couldn’t find one at all at the sites of some major media sites. I don’t expect to see this plastered on the front page tomorrow morning, either, yet another sign we’re gaining acceptance faster than I could have imagined a decade ago.
There was a lot of hand-wringing in New Hampshire about religious exemptions, and the governor refused to sign the bill until the addition of a bit of new language clarifying religious exemptions, something about which I’m of two minds. On the one hand, I don’t think any religion should be forced to perform a marriage it doesn’t believe in. Indeed, that seems pretty unconstitutional to me. But on the other hand, I’m not okay with writing into law cases in which discrimination is considered acceptable. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there are any religious exemptions in any laws against racial discrimination, for instance.
In the end, though, marriage is a civil contract, and that’s what really concerns me. As more of America starts to see us as normal (which we are, by the by), I expect religious issues to work themselves out. It’ll take work, of course, but I think we can declare today a relative victory for the movement, and certainly a welcome change of pace after the latest with Prop 8. Thanks, New Hampshire!