Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NH Muddles Marriage...Again

For crying out loud in a bucket, as my mother used to say when she was disgusted. The New Hampshire Senate roiled the still murky marriage-equality waters up there.

The Senate followed a three to two judiciary committee vote not to advance the same-sex marriage bill that narrowly passed the House. Instead in a compromise certain to please not one except for cowardly legislators, they would create a two-tier civil marriage for anyone and religious marriage for those so inclined.

I have already ranted about the unnecessary and addle-headed efforts to make religious marriages into civilly enforceable institutions for the first time. From colonial times, marriage has been a civil institution for any couple who qualifies for a marriage license. Now, they are trying to muddle the two varieties and in effect let the state meddle in church business. Dumb, guys.

This mess now has to go back to the House to see if it has any purchase at all. If somehow the two chambers and steam press this wrinkled travesty into a bill they both pass, it goes to the Gov. John Lynch. He's a religious parrot who has learned to say, "Awk. Marriage is one man and one woman. Awk." The Senate blunder is both marriage equality and DOMA in one stinking document. Who knows what he'll do with it.

In theory, the House could return with, "No. Pass our simple bill," and the compromise could end up with an SSM bill that passes by next to nothing. (Today's bill passed 13 to 11 with a solid Republican bloc against it.)

This is really not hard. Why do they struggle so?

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Uncle said...

Once again, as New Hampshire born and an expatriate, I fall back on my Emerson:

"The Great God who made New Hampshire
Vexed the lofty land with little men;
Small bat and wren."

I'll go back when the legislature grows sense and cojones...about five minutes after the end of time.

Unknown said...

Uncle, they certainly have fallen far from the standard set by General John Stark, haven't they?

I spoke directly to one of my legislators whom will remain nameless until this is done in hopes he'll come around. He told me he has a lesbian daughter and still doesn't think GLBT people should have marriage equality. He is voting his beliefs rather than from facts and didn't even know who Loving was when I referred to the case.


Mike, I'm glad you're on this. I've been looking for a good answer as to what the specifics are on the "two tier" system. I followed the link you made to the Manchester Union Leader but didn't find what I needed. Could you elaborate if you know?

Much thanks!

massmarrier said...

The other link there about the previous rant goes to the dreadful undercurrent I referenced. All the crazy talk about God's institution of marriage, plus some fantasies of thousands of years of 1 man/1 woman in practice and law aside, in this country from colonial times through today, marriage is a civil contract authorized by government.

People are free to call their religious rituals marriage, but that's nothing legal. They can continue to do that and maybe half or a little less of Americans do that.

New Hampshire's Senate is trying to mollify the reactionaries who insist that a church wedding makes a marriage. By introducing such artificial distinctions in the actual bill they amended, they are opening a gusty window. There would be new and sudden befuddlement about what makes a legal marriage. It's all totally unnecessary. If they relied on what they had before and what other SSM and non-SSM states have, marriage is marriage.

Moreover, if they try to have a recognized marriage by church ritual, they are in effect putting the church under government scrutiny. As it is only the cleric signing and returning the state-authorized license is the overlap and that is separate.

There should have been enough legal expertise in the Senate to see the problem and the possibility of suit against the constitutionality. Maybe Leonard Link will deal with it, or even better, the two NH chambers will strip the dumb and unnecessary parts out.