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May 20, 2009

Surprise! NH House Rejects Marriage Bill

There's a bit of backstory here, but the short version is that the New Hampshire legislature passed a marriage law last week which would allow gay marriages, but the Governor vetoed it because it did not contain strong enough religious conscience exceptions. He sent the law back with a suggested exception broader than the one they already had.

It was widely expected to pass and be signed into law by the end of the week. However, the New Hampshire House just rejected the new version of the law. This version was blocked by mostly party-line vote 188-186.

State Representative Steve Vaillancourt, a gay Republican from Manchester, was a leading voice against the amendment securing religious liberties, saying that the House should not be "bullied" by the governor.

Vaillancourt said an earlier bill that did not provide protections to clerics or religious groups was the one that should have been passed, adding that the amended bill would allow discrimination to be written into state law.

Vaillancourt relies on the latest talking point of radical gay marriage supporters: that providing targetted exemptions for religious conscious exemptions codifies discrimination. Let's be clear, though. The Constitution does not prohibit most kinds of discrimination where government imposition would interfere with the freedom of religion. The First Amendment prohibits that type of government action. Vaillancourt may wish otherwise, but no religious institution can be forced to perform or solemnize a gay marriage (or really any marriage) that would violate their religious beliefs.

The bill now goes to committee.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 05:52 PM

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