Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Hampshire Senate Passes Gay Marriage Bill

04/29/09 NY Times:

"The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 13 to 11 in favor of the bill, but only after a last-minute amendment strengthened language granting legal protections for religious groups and organizations that do not want to perform or help carry out same-sex marriages."

The state Legislature's wesbite has posted the latest version of the bill, as amended on 04/29/09. A member of the state Senate Clerk's office told me today that the amendment to the bill provided a complete substitution of its predecessor. Based on the NY Times report, I had expected the amendment to exempt discrimination by religious organizations involved in the wedding business - an exemption that Connecticut's recently enacted law includes. But the relevant provision of the bill falls short of that exemption:

Affirmation of Freedom of Religion in Marriage. RSA 457:37 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

457:37 Affirmation of Freedom of Religion in Marriage. Members of the clergy as described in RSA 457:31 or other persons otherwise authorized under law to solemnize a marriage shall not be obligated or otherwise required by law to officiate at any particular civil marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of their right to free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or by part I, article 5 of the New Hampshire constitution.

For more on New Hampshire's marriage equality legislation, see this post by New Hampshire family practitioner Kysa Crusco.

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