Despite unrelenting pressure from anti-gay activists, including via TV ads, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said May 14 he will sign a bill passed by the legislature legalizing same-sex marriage. Lynch, however, asked the legislature, known as the General Court, to make some changes to the measure first ‚ÄĒ alterations that legislative leaders and the state‚Äôs gay activist establishment said are fine with them. The process is expected to be completed quickly..
The revised bill will include this painstaking language:
‚ÄúNotwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious organization, association, or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges to an individual if such request for such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges is related to the solemnization of a marriage, the celebration of a marriage, or the promotion of marriage through religious counseling, programs, courses, retreats, or housing designated for married individuals, and such solemnization, celebration, or promotion of marriage is in violation of their religious beliefs and faith. Any refusal to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges in accordance with this section shall not create any civil claim or cause of action or result in any state action to penalize or withhold benefits from such religious organization, association or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society.
‚ÄúThe marriage laws of this state shall not be construed to affect the ability of a fraternal benefit society to determine the admission of members ... and shall not require a fraternal benefit society that has been established and is operating for charitable and educational purposes and which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization to provide insurance benefits to any person if to do so would violate the fraternal benefit society‚Äôs free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States and part 1, article 5 of the Constitution of New Hampshire.‚ÄĚ
Other new language says the new marriage laws cannot be used to limit existing protections and exemptions provided to religious organizations.
The alterations also repeal the state‚Äôs civil-union law effective Jan. 1, 2011, and prohibit any new civil unions from taking place after Jan. 1, 2010.
In announcing his decision, Lynch wrote: ‚ÄúAt its core, (this bill) simply changes the term ‚Äėcivil union‚Äô to ‚Äėcivil marriage.‚Äô Given the cultural, historical and religious significance of the word marriage, this is a meaningful change. I have heard, and I understand, the very real feelings of same-sex couples that a separate system is not an equal system. That a civil law that differentiates between their committed relationships and those of heterosexual couples undermines both their dignity and the legitimacy of their families. ...
‚ÄúWe can and must treat both same-sex couples and people of certain religious traditions with respect and dignity. I believe this proposed language will accomplish both of these goals.‚ÄĚ
Gay couples can marry in Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts. Same-sex marriage laws take effect in September in Maine and Vermont. In California, the state Supreme Court has until June 3 to decide the fate of a constitutional amendment passed by voters that halted same-sex marriages last November, five months after the state Supreme Court legalized them. Same-sex marriage also is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Sweden.
The New York state Assembly passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage May 12 by a vote of 89-52. The measure now goes to the Senate, where it may not have enough votes to pass.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs time for the Senate, which now has pro-equality leadership, to ensure that loving, committed same-sex couples in New York can have the same rights and responsibilities under the law as loving, committed different-sex couples,‚ÄĚ urged Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
The Assembly previously passed a same-sex marriage bill in 2007, but it stalled in the Senate. New York law already recognizes same-sex marriages entered into in states and countries that allow them.
Gay Erotic Magazines Shut Down
Venerable erotic gay magazines Honcho, Inches, Mandate, Playguy and Torso were shut down May 11 by Mavety Media Group. The closure also extended to the company‚Äôs lesser-known gay titles. Mandate had been published continuously since April 1975.
Reports said the Internet had made the magazines obsolete.
Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch supports same-sex marriage
Blogging for the Yonkers Tribune, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch came out in support of same-sex marriage May 11. ‚ÄúI believe that same-sex marriage will be approved by a majority of the fifty states in the Union within the next five years,‚ÄĚ Koch wrote. ‚ÄúWhen that occurs, the federal resistance will end and the Congress will vote in favor of federal recognition of same-sex marriages with equal benefits to both homosexual and heterosexual couples.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAs a matter of fundamental fairness, civil marriage must be made available for all consenting adults, irrespective of sexual orientation,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúAnd it will happen, more quickly than the public thinks.‚ÄĚ
Koch long has been rumored to be gay but has refused to discuss his sexual orientation when asked about it by journalists. In February, he told The New York Times: ‚ÄúI do not want to add to the acceptability of asking every candidate, ‚ÄėAre you straight or gay or lesbian?‚Äô and make it a legitimate question, so I don‚Äôt submit to that question. I don‚Äôt care if people think I‚Äôm gay because I don‚Äôt answer it. I‚Äôm flattered that at 84 people are interested in my sex life ‚ÄĒ and, it‚Äôs quite limited.‚ÄĚ"
Wanda Sykes Criticized For Comments To Obama
Openly lesbian comedian Wanda Sykes has come under fire for comments she made to President Barack Obama on May 9 at the White House Correspondents‚Äô Association Annual Dinner.
‚ÄúRush Limbaugh, one of your big critics,‚ÄĚ Sykes said from the podium. ‚ÄúBoy, Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails. So you‚Äôre saying, ‚ÄėI hope America fails.‚Äô ... He just wants the country to fail. To me, that‚Äôs treason. He‚Äôs not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying.
‚ÄúI think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight. ... Rush Limbaugh. ‚ÄėI hope the country fails.‚Äô I hope his kidneys fail. How ‚Äėbout that? He needs a good waterboarding, that‚Äôs what he needs.‚ÄĚ
Folks from the right and the left, including White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and liberal TV commentator Keith Olbermann, said Sykes had gone too far. ‚ÄúI think there are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection rather than comedy,‚ÄĚ Gibbs said May 12. ‚ÄúI think there‚Äôs no doubt that 9/11 is part of that.‚ÄĚ
In his turn at the dinner‚Äôs microphone, Obama joked: ‚Äú(Senior Adviser) David (Axelrod) and I have been together for a long time. ... I think back to that day that I called Ax so many years ago and said, ‚ÄėYou and I can do wonderful things together,‚Äô and he said to me the same thing that partners all across America are saying to one another right now: ‚ÄėLet‚Äôs go to Iowa and make it official.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
-assistance: Bill Kelley