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New Hampshire Recognizes That Human Rights Are For All Humans

3 June, 2009

The governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, finally, after a great deal of obstructionism, signed the bill passed by the New Hampshire legislature legalizing gay marriage.   In other words, accepting the idea that marriage is a human right, that gays and lesbians are humans, and that they should be allowed to get married.  And they came close to getting it right.

It was not simple, though.  Governor Lynch tried to derail the process by insisting on extra protection for religious groups (from Boston.com) :

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.”

How nice.  He held up the civil rights for American citizens to ‘protect religion.’  Now religious charities and educational groups can discriminate.  Correct me if I’m wrong here, but aren’t the right wing  Christians always claiming that the gays want ‘special rights’?  Isn’t a provision written into a bill to allow Christians to discriminate a special right?

The bill was signed this evening in a small ceremony (also from Boston.com): 

“Today we’re standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear they will receive the same rights, responsibilities, and respect under New Hampshire law,” Governor John Lynch said before signing the legislation in a State House ceremony at about 5:20 p.m.

Lynch said it was a New Hampshire tradition “to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections, and that tradition continues today.” The room, filled by scores of the bill’s supporters, resounded with applause as he signed.

What galls me about this whole kabuki performance is that it is absolute nonsense.  Lynch claimed, early on, that he wanted to make sure that churches would not be forced to perform services which disagreed with their teachings. 

Folks, marriage is a civil function.  It is possible to marry without any involvement from a church, priest, pastor, minister, or any other religious person, place or thing.  (((Wife))) and I were married in her parent’s living room.  The ceremony was performed by a Justice of the Peace with no mention of god(s).  We exchanged rings before each other and before our families;  not before any god(s). 

Had we chosen, we could have been married in a church.  The whole ceremony in a church, performed by a person of the cloth, would have been entirely superfluous.  It would have made no difference at all regarding the legality of the marriage.  What does the minister (or whatever) say?  “By the authority vested in me by the state of (Whatever), I now pronounce you man and wife.”  And then he (or she) signs the wedding licence issued by the state!

But states have a long history of granting special privileges to churches.  In Florida, a church-based day care company can legally ignore most of the health and safety codes with which secular businesses must comply.  Church dinners can, in many states, ignore health and safety codes when selling food as part of a church dinner.  In Virginia, a religious company doesn’t have to pay unemployment insurance (which means their employees are shit-out-of-luck if they get laid off).  So why not give them one more special privilege:  the right to discriminate against people who are doing what is legal under state law.

So, kudos to New Hampshire.  The governor, though, by granting special privileges to an already privileged group, just feeds the churches’ sense of entitlement.  And I’d bet dollars to donuts that they will be back for more.

12%.  Progress.

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16 comments

  1. The first of the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Just to make sure I understand you correct, Billy, you are in favor (by complaining about this “granting special privileges”) that courts have the moral right and duty to mandate that Gays be allowed to married in any church despite any religious belief held by that church or its clergy.

    That is your position isn’t it?


    • No. The Constitution of the United States already guarantees that churches would not be forced to perform the religious addition of a civil ceremony if it conflicts with their teachings. This is covered by your quote. The addition of the part saying that they do not have to provide benefits for the spouse of a legally married employee that to which I object. You are deliberately conflating two different situations: the right to have one’s legal marriage recognized, and a religious group being forced to perform a ceremony which is against their doctrine. No one (other than scare-mongers on the religious right) is suggesting that churches be forced to perform wedding ceremonies for gay couples.


      • Billy, I appreciate you taking time to clarify your position for me.

        I am just going to note my disagreement with your assessment that I was “deliberately conflating”.


  2. The power conservative religion has over the secular government is insane.

    The need to acknowledge religion’s special (and unconstitutional) status in lawmaking makes me want to puke everytime. No one was worried about offending atheists or secular humanists, but made sure to say that religions didn’t have to treat gays as equal humans if they don’t want to.

    As a side note, if liberal churches had the visibility and power and most importantly, influence that the conservative ones do, I think the conservatives would be a lot more worried about the separation of church and state. Perhaps almost as worried as those evil atheists and other secularists?


    • Agreed. And when anyone expects them to play by the rules, they run to their pet legislators who insert special privilege bills. Bleah.


  3. Craig, if I had more energy at the moment then, I could find something in your comment to disagree with.

    However one thing you wrote resonated with me. I certainly believe that people should be able to run for office and be honest about whether or not they are an atheist or secular humanist without fear that it would antagonize voters. A year or two ago on some NPR type program (maybe Fresh Air or something similar) a Lesbian running for a city office admitted to the radio host that she was open about her Lesbianism – but was really afraid that if it came out that she was an Atheist that she would not get elected. She believed Atheism would be a kiss of death to her political aspirations.

    Keep in mind that even though you are highly aware of many instances of Christian wrongdoing – or believe that Christian views are a great wrong – others have held different positions. George Washington was not a Christian but he cautioned against rejecting religion because he felt it had a stabilizing affect on society. Thomas Paine was adamantly against the Christian Faith, but he tried to use an appeal to some sort of deism while in France during its’ Revolution to bring some sanity back to the people. I believe he wrote some book in France for that purpose – but it didn’t work – he barely escaped the French Revolution with his life, being imprisoned there.

    I think you are young and naive. You have no idea how bad and corrupt people in general are.

    My wife relayed to me some of what Rachel Maddow said about Obama seeking the right to imprison people that are seen as a threat to the Country. I didn’t see or personally hear about it – and I am not sure that I understood correctly what my wife said that Obama was trying do – as she heard from Rachel Maddow.

    You probably look up to Al Gore. But if you google his net worth you will find that it is now well over a hundred million. When he last ran for office his public disclosures gave his net worth as between one and two million dollars. (That is not a bad increase – especially for someone who argues that he contributes certain of his incomes entirely to charity.)

    Over time you will see that not all conservatives are bad – and not all liberals are good. Neither are all Christians dangerous nor are all homosexuals loving and tolerant. (How tolerant are gays of other gays who become conservative?)

    It is an oxymoron to say “I do not tolerate INTOLERANCE”.

    There are very few people who perfectly live up to their own morals. I always see that I have moral failings. For example, I watched a couple episodes of BURN NOTICE – and even though there isn’t much wrong with the show – and maybe I’ll learn some little helpful thing from the show – I probably could have done any number of useful things around the house – or maybe with all the time that I’ve watched tv over a few months I could start my own blog talking about the importance of vitamin d and explained intricacies of skin pigmentation and vitamin d manufacture in the skin.

    I really believe from all the studies I’ve read … never-mind … you probably don’t care about such a health issue and its implications for others.

    Gotta run anway,
    best to you!


  4. You sure make a lot of suppositions and assumptions about my beliefs that are in no way based in reality.

    I may be younger than you, but that in no way means I’m naïve. It’s a common mistake to assume someone who is young hasn’t anything useful to say. You often appeal to authority which is a common logical fallacy. Just because George Washington said something doesn’t mean he’s right. You still have to give reasoning and evidence. And I think that statement is patently incorrect.

    No, I don’t especially look up to Al Gore. I think he has done some admirable things, but I disagree with him on several issues. I have no idea why you think his wealth has anything to do with the previous statement you made, but it might interest you to know that I find extreme wealth and opulence distasteful and immoral – being a socialist and all.

    I’m under no illusions that any group is all good or all bad. I wonder what you base the claim that I “have no idea how bad and corrupt people in general are.” How would you know what I know or have experienced? I think you’d be surprised.

    Your paternalism is quite offensive, and totally unnecessary. I’ve never claimed anything like all conservatives being bad, liberals good, or gays loving & tolerant. Christians are all dangerous only in the way that all religion is, because faith is inherently dangerous.

    “never-mind … you probably don’t care about such a health issue and its implications for others. ”

    Again, you are being quite offensive. For no discernible reason you seem to think you know what my beliefs are, you presume that I’m inexperienced because I’m young, that I don’t care about health issues and how others are affected, that I view the world in black/white good/evil terms, and that I love Al Gore.

    And then you go and try and put a positive spin on your condescension.

    What exactly was the point of all that?


    • Craig,

      I think your comment here was rhetorically excellent. You made your point strongly, forcefully and you weren’t too over-the-top.

      There may have been one or more error in your post of the type that you rightly called me upon. Take this comment of yours, “You often appeal to authority”. I am not sure that you are familiar enough with my writings to know that for sure – and “often” is a subjective word. There are times when it is perfectly appropriate to appeal to authority – such as when two people are arguing about facts.

      Your critique of the statement that I alluded to in George Washington’s farewell address – is fine. The quote of Washington that bears consideration is “And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

      Having said that, I think Chinese culture has a fair amount of morality (probably more than ours right now) that is serving their country well. They are not particularly religious.

      In the past people in China had a religious-like devotion to Mao’s little red book. (I think it contained moral instruction.) China is also said to have (or had) a religion called Confucianism – which may not be a religion in a supernatural sense – but just one of studying morality and principles. In our culture, I am not aware of any similar guides to behavior that are waiting in the wings to replace the large decline in Bible reading among Christians and the general population.

      The comments in George Washington’s farewell address may have been prompted in part by the lawless anarchy that accompanied the French Revolution.

      If you are interested in health issues from an individual or national health perspective it would be worthwhile to research vitamin d deficiency. A belief in evolution is a good backdrop when noting the relationship between melanin content in the skin and the historical amounts of sun exposure that people have received. Skin pigmentation is evolutionary and is a balancing act between skin damage and necessary vitamin d production. (You probably get enough vitamin d being fair-skinned and living in Utah.) However dark-skinned people do not make enough vitamin d in the US and many people spend no time at all outdoors. If your interest in health issues is high then you will find researching vitamin d deficiency to be extremely worthwhile. New discoveries linking vitamin d deficiency to all kinds of health problems are coming out rapidly. Doctors can’t keep up with all the findings – especially those that don’t read the literature. Only since the year 2000 has the importance of vitamin d (beyond preventing rickets) started to be uncovered. All the dangers about sun exposure that have been warned about is only one side of the coin. Too little sun exposure for many has wrought havoc on our national health system – that is only now starting to be uncovered. Vitamin D has a role in brain development. It is necessary for the immune system and in preventing the range of autoimmune diseases. Vitamin d levels in pregnant mothers are inversely related to rates of preeclampsia and the number of c-sections performed. Likelihoods of getting cancer and cancer outcomes are also now strongly associated with whether people have optimum vitamin d levels.

      [I am not recommending that anybody get sunburned.]

      I apologize for the attitude in my last my post – and if there still be any incorrect attitude in this post – I also apologize. My last post was wrong on more levels than you wrote about – probably wrong more than you realized.

      Also, I am sorry for leading you to use your time responding to what I wrote.

      I take to heart what you wrote and I’ll try to be more careful and respectful to you and others in the future.


  5. It seems to me that church and state have always found a way to collude. If they can’t do it “up front” the back door is always open.

    Plus, the public official seems to have to swim in both streams, what his private views may be because of his religion (or whatever he purports it to be)against what may be good public policy which will probably bring the REAL American god (money) into play. You can almost feel sorry for them.

    Sometimes church and state don’t ride easy together, but they general keep company. As long as there is any kind of a concordat between them everyone else loses.

    It’s all influence, power, and money.


  6. I was cheered by the New Hampshire news even if it does fall into glass less than full category. I think that as the demographics of this country change, we’re going to see marriage slowly move in the direction it’s taken in France. IIRC, there’s a clear distinction between civil partnerships registered with the state and religious ceremonies. Over time those who rail against gay marriages are going to be seen as irrational (but loud) loonies operating outside society’s mainstream. The truth is most people really don’t care what other people do with their marriages or personal relationships, and the younger you are, the more likely that is to be true. The homophobes are eventually going to go extinct; it’s just unfortunate they’re exerting as much influence as they do now.

    That business about churches being “forced” to perform gay marriages has always struck me as a classic example of the homophobes using a straw man argument. Any minister anywhere has always had the right to refuse to marry any couple — and they often do. One of the things that decided me and my siblings that it was time to stop being social Lutherans was when the church pastor in our home town refused to allow a young couple to get married in the church because the bride hadn’t donated to the “new carpet for the pastor’s rec room” fund. (Seriously. She hadn’t contributed anything toward to the new carpeting in the basement of the parsonage so she was denied a wedding in a church she’d attended since infancy. But that’s a digression. . .)


  7. Another example of the liveral NAZIS trying to outlaw religion. Gods Law says that marriage is only man and woman. Gods Law says that homosexuality is an abomination. And now state laws say that the churches must change they’re teachings and doctrine to allow gays to marry. NAZI Germans outlawed Christian and Jewish ceremonys. They outlawed sacrificing animals for Jews. Now gays and liberal NAZIS do the same thing here. One more step to the gas chamber.


    • Oooo. Someone tickled your homophobic bone, did they?


    • Wow, I’ve never been called a Nazi before, especially not for being gay or liberal. Seems a bit oxymoronic.


  8. Sarge: I think it was Susan B. Anthony who said to be very suspicious of people who think that they know what god wants other to do. And, oddly, when someone says they know what god wants them to do, it usually increases the power of the person in ‘communication’ with god.


  9. Nan: Well, if you have no real argument, you invent one, right?

    RC: Liberalism taken to an illogical extreme is communism. Conservatism taken to an illogical extreme is fascism. And, if you read your history, you will discover that the Germans had no problem at all with most of the Christian sects. And most churches had their own Hitler Youth chapters.

    SI: And in an odd way, it is fun.

    Craig: His monniker is Rational Christian. I think oxymoronism is his raison d’etre.


  10. To me it is not clear



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