January 01, 2008

Gay Civil Unions Occur in New Hampshire: Planet Not Reported Falling Into Sun

As the New Year came in, so did the legal recognition of same-sex couples in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Legalizes Same-Sex Civil Unions

Concord, NH (AHN) - Gay unions are now recognized in New Hampshire. At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, the law allowing civil unions between gay and lesbian couples became effective. Hours after the law took effect, 37 gay couples entered into civil unions at an outdoor ceremony amid below freezing temperatures.

The civil union ceremonies took place at the New Hampshire Statehouse where the law was adopted and signed in 2007.

But the law will certainly stoke some fire from opposition, principally from conservative groups. Karen Testerman, executive director of the New Hampshire advocacy group Cornerstone Policy Research, said many state residents question if allowing people of the same sex to enter into civil unions is the right thing to do.

"Obviously, we are concerned about it because we have a special interest group (gays and lesbians) that is changing family law," Testerman told Seacoast news.

Testerman said their group opposes same-sex civil unions, but they will not start a campaign to recall the law. Instead, Cornerstone Policy wants to emphasize research findings that show the difference between gay and lesbian couples and straight married couples...

Among those who immediately entered into a civil union hours after the law become effective were Julie Bernier and Joan Andresen. Both are employees of the Plymouth State University.

"We've been together 20 years; we've been waiting for this moment for 20 years; finally the state will recognize us as we are," Bernier was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

New Hampshire is the fourth state to permit civil unions, but the first to do it without a court decision or the threat of one. New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed the law on May, which grants same-sex couples the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as married male-female couples, but it does not call the union a marriage.
So far, no vengeful angels with flaming swords have been reported swooping out of the White Mountains. The world is apparently still going around the sun in the same orbit as it was last week. There hasn't been widespread necrophilia and heterosexual married couples didn't get divorced in large numbers in order to run off with their new gay partners.

Congratulations are due, I think, to Bernier and Andresen. They've been together for twenty years, statistically a lot better than most heterosexual couples in this country. Kudos, too, to Karen Testerman for realizing the obvious: that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples. Gee, ya think?

The article doesn't mention that Cornerstone Policy Research is a fundamentalist group that advocates the usual slate of fundie initiatives, like getting religion into schools and basing public policy on scriptural literalism. They even do prayer shields!
...Romans 13:1 reminds us that there is no authority except of God, that all authority exists because God ordained it. Therefore we are to pray for our leaders.

The basic element of government is the family…a man and a woman and the children that bless that marriage. The strength of our society depends upon the strength of our families. We must pray for all who are in authority beginning with the family and moving up the scale to our governor , our legislators and our President and his cabinet and Congress.

For these reasons, Cornerstone Policy Research is calling intercessors to join us as we provide a shield of prayer for our state and her government and our families...
Mmmmmm, smells like divine right of kings. Thankfully, New Hampshire tends to be, as the article notes, a rather live-and-let-live place when it comes to people's private lives and thus social policy in general. As is the case for all of New England, religious fundamentalists haven't been able to make big inroads in this part of the world as they have in some other parts of the US. Perhaps it's because New England's history includes a period during which fundies really did run everything according to Biblical law and it didn't work out too well. Been there, done that, get thee hence to South Carolina, yon fundamentalists.

Personally, I'm glad to know that not only does my current home state allow any two people who want to take on a legal commitment do so, but so do the states next door. Massachusetts allows for same-sex marriage since 2004 using that very title, while Connecticut (since 2005), New Hampshire and Vermont (since 2000) all permit civil unions that are effectively the same thing as marriage. The only states left in New England that don't let same-sex couples get hitched are Rhode Island and Maine, and I think it'll happen there eventually.

Sphere: Related Content