Although it’s almost managed to fly under the radar, it looks like New Hampshire might actually repeal the January 2010 law that legalized gay marriage. The state’s Republican-controlled House and Senate are expected to pass the bill eliminating the right to same-sex marriage. Though Democratic Governor John Lynch has promised to veto the bill, it’s still possible that both houses of the General Court will have enough votes to override the veto.
The bill isn’t expected to be voted on until after New Hampshire’s Republican primary — the second in the country — on January 10th so that the candidates have as much time as possible to “get their message out.” “This is the time for them to shine. We want them to get all the attention possible,” says House Leader D.J. Bettencourt. Despite more than half their own party wishing they’d stop talking about gay people already and their own beliefs about a small federal government, Republican presidential candidates campaigning in New Hampshire have been weighing in on the issue. Support for the bill appears to be largely split along party lines, but a recent political ad opposing the bill features New Hampshire residents from both sides of the aisle.
Proponents of the bill argue that legal partnerships will still be available for gay couples, while those who oppose it worry that the bill lacks key language that would actually make civil unions a viable option. The bill itself seems to suggest that civil unions wouldn’t be permitted under the new law; the fiscal notice reports that “The Department of State states this bill prohibits same sex marriages and civil unions.” Like California’s Prop 8, it also includes a provision that recognizes marriages that took place between January 1st, 2010 and the date that the law could take effect.
New Hampshire is currently one of six states (plus Washington, D.C.) where same-sex marriage is legal. In the nearly two years since marriage replaced civil unions, over 1,800 couples have wed, bringing in approximately $500,000 per year to the State. Ironically, voting on the bill was put on hold last session to keep the focus on the state budget. If it passes in January, the bill is estimated to cost $50,500 in “programming changes” and will incur losses in state revenue. While the state will be missing out from money that could be earned from marriages licenses, the people who will take the biggest hit are the New Hampshire citizens who need help most, as $38 of the $50 charged per license goes to domestic abuse programs.
II. No woman shall marry her father, father’s brother, mother’s brother, son, brother, son’s son, daughter’s son, brother’s son, sister’s son, father’s brother’s son, mother’s brother’s son, father’s sister’s son, mother’s sister’s son, or any other woman. (<– tacked on like it’s just there as an afterthought)
Perhaps most worryingly, the bill’s only actual argument against marriage equality boils down to everyone’s (least) favorite rallying cry: Think of the children!
III. The vast majority of children are conceived by acts of passion between men and women – sometimes unintentionally. Because of this biological reality, New Hampshire has a unique, distinct, and compelling interest in promoting stable and committed marital unions between opposite-sex couples so as to increase the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by both of their natural parents. No other domestic relationship presents the same level of state interest.
IV. A child has a natural human right to the love, care and support of his or her own mother and father, whenever possible. Marriage is the primary social institution that promotes that ideal and encourages its achievement.
After all the progress that’s been made, it’s troublesome to think that our rights will be so quickly stripped away — and not with reason or compelling legal arguments, but with clumsy appeals to bigotry. As children of abusive biological parents or loving adoptive families, single mothers and fathers, and, yep, even gay parents will tell you, though opposite-sex, genetically-related families may be the norm, they are often far from ideal. Conflating social constructions of normalcy with the natural order of things is becoming a tired trick in the anti-gay playbook and I’m getting impatient waiting for it to have its day in court. A state’s interests should be in protecting it’s people and their freedoms, not in “encouraging the achievement” of an ideal that will leave hundreds of families unrecognized. We should expect, and demand, real acceptance for different types of families and a higher commitment to the right to live free or die.