Friday, May 29, 2009

Compromise reached on NH gay marriage bill -

Compromise reached on NH gay marriage bill -

By Holly Ramer
Associated Press Writer / May 29, 2009

CONCORD, N.H.—House and Senate negotiators on Friday agreed to add one sentence and change one word in a bill that will determine whether the state allows gay marriage.

Both chambers have approved bills to legalize same-sex marriage, but Gov. John Lynch later demanded additional language to make it clear that churches and religious groups would not be forced to officiate at gay marriages or to provide services, facilities and goods of any kind to participants.

The Senate passed legislation to satisfy Lynch, but the House narrowly rejected it last week. The compromise reached Friday barely changes it.

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.

There was little debate over the changes, save for Sen. Sheila Roberge, R-Bedford, who offered three substitute proposals, all of which were rejected. She suggested asking voters in a nonbinding referendum whether the Legislature should permit same-sex marriage, postponing the effective date of the legislation from January 2010 to July 2011 or allowing businesses and individuals to decline to provide wedding services if doing so would violate their "consciences or sincerely held religious beliefs."

Other members of the negotiating team said the latter would open the door to all kinds of discrimination.

"Hypothetically, if I'm a Nazi -- which I'm not -- and I felt white supremacy should take place, do I now get an exemption because my conscience says if you're not blond and blue-eyed, I can discriminate against you?" asked Rep. Anthony DiFruscia, R-Windham.

Roberge insisted that the amendment she proposed was "really what the citizens of New Hampshire want."

"You're not looking at who is going to get hurt," she said.

Because a compromise must receive unanimous support to survive, Roberge was then removed from the committee and replaced with Sen. Matthew Houde, D-Plainfield, who voted with the majority. Roberge said she was disappointed she was removed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that we should allow Same-Sex Marriage in the State of New Hampshire because it`s good for the people and it`s very peaceful to have it in this State of New Hampshire. I never been babtized at the Church in the State of New Hampshire because they are going against people who are gay. I said i choose not to be babtized here at the Church just to go against Same-Sex Marriage. We need this and it`s important that we have Same-Sex Marriage in this State peacefully without hurting anyone. It`s just like Straight Marriage does go peacefully. That`s all you got to think about.