CommunityMy FDL

Bishop Robinson and Others, Making The Case in New Hampshire

Video of Robinson’s testimony here from local TV WMUR9…– hoping to transcribe this and update later on, RL time permitting.


Some exciting debate happened in New Hampshire yesterday, as well as some odd and obscure moments. This from this morning’s “Concord Monitor”:  

More than 100 people packed a legislative committee room in Concord yesterday, most of them urging lawmakers to update the new civil union law to grant gay couples a claim to the word “marriage.”

New Hampshire’s civil union law grants gay couples the same “rights, obligations and responsibilities” as married heterosexual couples. The only difference between civil unions and marriage is linguistic. But both supporters and opponents of gay marriage say that difference is crucial.

“The word ‘marriage’ is important,” said Rep. Ed Butler, a Democrat from Hart’s Location and a prominent supporter of gay rights. “That is a significant cultural recognition. If you are honest with yourselves, you’ll acknowledge that civil unions, though wonderful in their own right, are not marriage.”

As we’ve seen in other areas of the country, money came into the discussion like the tired old and very worn thin argument that it is:

Opponents of same-sex marriage argued that the semantic difference between “civil union” and “marriage” amounted to a protective barrier around a bedrock of civilization. The Rev. Robert Haynes, a pastor at New Life Community Church in Manchester, said homosexuals should be satisfied with the recognition they received with the civil union law.

“If they’ve got all the other benefits, why are we even discussing this?” Haynes asked lawmakers. “We’ve got a budget that’s not balanced, and we’re discussing this?”

Then Gene Robinson rolled up his sleeves, stepped up to the plate, and hit the ball out of the park.

The Rev. Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire’s Episcopal Church and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, urged members of the House Judiciary Committee to legalize gay marriage. He said the definition of marriage had evolved through history – including changes to allow marriage between people of different races. Extending full marriage rights to gays and lesbians, Robinson said, would be “the next logical revision in that evolution.”

He said SO MUCH more than that. He laid out the history of marriage and one by one, took up each of the supposed “issues”, then calmly and reasonably hit each of them over the fence.

It was a thing of beauty- Robinson essentially gave a clinic of “How to Dispel Arguments Against Equal Marriage Rights (as well as converting CUs/DPs to same)”.

But what about the poor clergy who would be “forced” to perform same sex marriage ceremonies, against their will?

(Why do I have a very different image of a traditional “shotgun” wedding, where it’s pointed at the unwilling priest instead of the groom?)

The gay marriage bill would redefine marriage to be the “legally recognized union of two people.” It would recognize gay marriages performed in other states or countries. And it specifies that clergy members are not required to perform marriages for same-sex couples if their faith does not sanction such unions.

Couples who entered civil unions since they were legalized in New Hampshire last year could have their union designated as a marriage without paying an additional marriage license fee.

Sounds, um… logical. Considerate, even, of the feelings of those who will still oppose equal marriage after it is passed into law. The “moral higher road being taken”.

Certainly far more than those clergy who oppose have shown supporters!

Testimony leaned overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage. Dozens of supporters, organized by the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, wore bright-green stickers reading “Support Marriage.” Mo Baxley, executive director of the coalition, said opponents to gay marriage were trying to force their faith on others.

“I grow weary of cafeteria Christians telling me what parts of their religion I need to follow when they don’t even follow parts of the Bible themselves,” Baxley said.

Amen to that, Mo.

But… “what about the CHILDREN?”

Several witnesses urged lawmakers to consider how legalizing gay marriage would affect children. Shannon McGinley, a representative of Cornerstone Policy Research, a conservative public policy group, said allowing same-sex marriage would erode the traditional family.

“One can believe in same-sex marriage. One can believe in the importance of a mother and a father for every child. But one cannot believe in both,” McGinley said.

YAWN. This argument has more holes in it than lace by this stage of the game. Honestly, is this ALL they have regarding kids?

Yeah, it is. And they know it. Far too many GOOD parents and STABLE, HAPPY families are out there…

Now, we get to the really, well, WEIRD  ARGUMENTS. Where you know folks “just have not been getting enough sunshine this winter and their brain cells are frozen solid” kind of weird.

The “you can’t make this sh*t up” kind of weird…

Other witnesses used more obscure arguments.

Michael Geanoulis made an analogy to the Portsmouth Fisherman’s Co-op, a group he helped establish that decided to exclude sailboats from its membership.

The choice wasn’t discriminatory, Geanoulis said, because it was for the good of the group as a whole.

Likewise, he said, forbidding homosexuals from marrying would benefit the bulk of society. “We have to think of marriage as the highest and best choice for children, just like the Portsmouth Fisherman Co-op was the highest and best for fishermen,” Geanoulis said.

Tony Fallon, an architect from Strafford, said applying the word “marriage” to homosexual unions would be “a terrible breach of trademark and copyright.”

Rep. Rick Watrous, a Concord Democrat, asked Fallon who owns the trademark on marriage.

“I would say the church,” Fallon said.

“Which church?” Watrous asked.

Fallon paused for several seconds and then said, “The church of God. A variety of faiths have this trademark and copyright.”

Just to throw in more fun, there are 2 other proposed bills in NH currently:

New Hampshire law also recognizes same-sex marriages and civil unions performed in other states or countries. A bill proposed by Rep. David Hess, a Hooksett Republican, would change that. Under Hess’s proposal, gay marriages performed out of state would not be legal in New Hampshire, although out-of-state civil unions would be valid here. Hess said he wanted state law to recognize the difference between “marriage” and “civil union.”

Lawmakers also expected yesterday to hear debate on a bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Leo Pepino of Manchester, that would have repealed the state’s civil union law. But early yesterday, Pepino amended his bill to simply define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. State law already forbids the marriage of two men or two women to each other.

Previous post

It breaks my heart...

Next post

DC-based fundie orgs shacking up