Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Hampshire deserves praise

New Hampshire deserves credit for two votes in the State Senate today. First, in a 14 to 10 votes the Senate voted to legalize medicinal marijuana. This is such a no-brainer that I'm still shocked there are any votes in opposition. Governor John Lynch is a bit of a stick-in-the-mud on social freedom. It is unclear whether he will sign the bill or not but he says he sides with "law enforcement." From what I've seen this governor needs to be involuntarily retired at the next election.

Shortly after that bout of common sense the same Senate then voted to approve marriage equality by a vote of 13 to 11. Once again Lynch has been bitching about this measure and indicated he doesn't approve.

The New Hampshire law has a clause that I'd like to know more about. It has a two types of marriage. One is a civil marriage and the other issues a religious marriage license. This, no doubt, is to address the hysteria of panic-stricken fundamentalists who fantasize that they will be forced to conduct gay weddings in the middle of one of their tent revivals. That concern is about as legitimate as their theology—in other words, it is just more paranoid lunacy from the fringe.

If this "religious license" excludes gay couples then there is a problem. A marriage license never requires a specific church to perform the marriage. Baptist churches don't have to marry Jews, Episcopalians, etc. There is a false view, pushed by the fundamentalist Right, that no churches will perform gay marriages. In truth there are churches that have been conducting such ceremonies for decades. If this religious license forbids churches from conducting such marriages by denying them same-sex couples a license then it violates the religious freedom of the churches that reject fundamentalist dogma.

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