Category Archives: New Hampshire

NH Rep. Nancy Elliott: Graduate of Barber/Camenker Anti-Gay University

Here’s some video you’ve probably seen by now. New Hampshire State Representative Nancy Elliott (R) is speaking before a Judiciary Committee Meeting on a bill to undo New Hampshire’s new gay marriage law.


Rep. Elliott displays a two-pronged attack plan: 1) Gross ’em out and 2) lie through your teeth. Where did she learn them? Though the tactics certainly aren’t unknown in anti-gay circles, they’re best displayed by two rabid anti-gay foes.

In September 2009, a group of far-Right Wing fanatics converged in St. Louis for a two-day “How to Take America Back” conference. Organized by a veritable Who’s Who of anti-gay crusaders, the conference included a workshop called “How to Counter the Homosexual Extremist Movement.” The workshop was hosted by two anti-gay luminaries with very specific skills.

The first instructor was Matt Barber. Barber has a bunch of made up titles with Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, deals primarily in the Ick Factor. Right Wing Watch had this to say about the workshop:

There was some small disagreement about how much people should rely on religious arguments in the public sphere, with Matt Barber urging people to focus on the “ick” factor around gay sex and on claims that homosexuality is a health threat, which he called the movement’s “Achilles heel.”

The goal here is to divert from a civil and philosophical discussion of ideas to an irrational one of embarrassment and propriety. And it’s not the only time Barber’s tried to gross people out. Several years ago he famously referred to gay marriage as “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’

Barber’s co-instructor at September’s anti-gay workshop was none other than Brian Camenker, head of SPLC-certified hate group Mass Resistance.

Cameker’s weapon of choice is the outrageous “Think of the Children!” lie. He’s the driving force behind the oft-repeated but long-disproven Kevin Jennings charges, and the David Parker/Mad Dad lie.

Let’s take another look at Rep. Elliott’s performance, because I’d bet money that she was in that workshop in September. (The entire hearing is embedded below in four parts. Note that the old man on Elliott’s right and the woman with the deadpan expression on her left are decidedly against the amendment.)

Rep. Elliott had some trouble out of the gate with the Ick part. First of all, “wiggling it around in excrement”? I think her husband might benefit from some remedial courses. Secondly, her transition from “Grossly specific” to “It could happen to you!” was downright clumsy. She needs to practice that more. (Also interesting was her insinuation that anal sex = rape with the question “Would you let that be done to you?”)

As for the outrageous lie, this afternoon Rep. Elliott released a statement admitting what the Nashua, NH school board and the rest of us already knew: Nancy Elliott was lying. There was no gay porn in 5th grade classes. From today’s prepared statement to the Judiciary Committee:

This statement made in the Judiciary Committee had caused some controversy so I went back to my source for the statement to verify the information that I had received. I found that I could not confirm the accuracy of the information.

I am presenting this letter at the first committee meeting of Judiciary since last Tuesday. I do so at the earliest opportunity in order to make clear I am withdrawing what I said regarding the Nashua schools.

I would like to apologize to Judiciary Committee, the Nashua public schools and its employees and the speaker as well as anyone else affected by what I said.

Apology or no, Rep. Elliott’s mission was successful. As we know from Brian Camenker’s exploits, getting the lie on record is what counts. If Rep. Elliott’s amendment passes and is presented for a popular vote, people predisposed to believe her lie will do one of two things. They’ll either forget that she retracted her statement (notice how she was as carefully non-specific in her apology as she was specific in her lie), or if they remember, they’ll fear that it might happen.

Barber and Camenker must be proud. I wonder if they’ll send her a certificate.

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Marriage Equality Finally Arrives in New Hampshire

After a long and completely unnecessary battle, the legislature of New Hampshire has approved a marriage equality bill that meets Governor John Lynch’s needless and already accounted for fears about religious freedom.

The Union Leader reports that the NH Senate approved a new compromise bill (14-10) late this morning, with the House following suit this afternoon (198-176). Governor Lynch signed the bill at around 5:20 PM. The new law takes effect January 1, 2010.

“Let’s vote this one last time. Church and state should be separate,” said Rep. Anthony DiFruscia, R-Windham, who helped craft the final compromise language.

In the Senate, Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Deborah Reynolds, D-Plymouth, said the language in the amendment strikes a balance that provides “equal rights for all and the right to religious freedom.”

So way to go, New Hampshire, the sixth state in the Union to recognize equality in marriage! Add another star to the flag!

NH House Rejects Amended Marriage Equality Bill

Two votes separated the winners from the losers in the New Hampshire House today. This time, we’re on the losing side. The Washington Blade is reporting that the bill requested by the governor to assure that religious institutions won’t be required to officiate same-sex weddings has failed by a vote of 188-186.

A similar bill had previously passed in the House by a similarly slim margin. My question: Which of the unnecessary changes that their side requested convinced them to change their votes?

The House later voted to return the bill to committee, leading to a re-vote sometime in the next two weeks.

Congratulations, New Hampshire! You win the Drama Queen award!

New Hampshire Governor to Sign Marriage Bill, Some Strings Attached

Well this is an interesting development. The New Hampshire Union-Leader is reporting this afternoon that New Hampshire Governor Jim Lynch is almost ready to sign the state’s marriage equality bill, approved by both houses of Congress last month. Governor Lynch released the following statement (excerpted) today.

“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.

“I have also heard, and I understand, the concerns of our citizens who have equally deep feelings and genuine religious beliefs about marriage. They fear that this legislation would interfere with the ability of religious groups to freely practice their faiths.

“Throughout history, our society’s views of civil rights have constantly evolved and expanded. New Hampshire’s great tradition has always been to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections.

“That is what I believe we must do today.

“But following that tradition means we must act to protect both the liberty of same-sex couples and religious liberty. In their current form, I do not believe these bills accomplish those goals.

“This morning, I met with House and Senate leaders, and the sponsors of this legislation, and gave them language that will provide additional protections to religious institutions.

“This new language will provide the strongest and clearest protections for religious institutions and associations, and for the individuals working with such institutions. It will make clear that they cannot be forced to act in ways that violate their deeply held religious principles.

“If the legislature passes this language, I will sign the same-sex marriage bill into law. If the legislature doesn’t pass these provisions, I will veto it.

“We 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 and I urge the legislature to pass it. “

This is a surprise, to say the least. As I’ve said before, the religious objection business is such a non-issue that I don’t understand why reasonably intelligent people don’t see that the separation between civil marriage and marriages as granted by a religion is just that: A SEPARATION.

But hey, if that’s what it takes, let’s look at the governor’s new language. (I’ve provided links to the referenced RSAs.)

I. Notwithstanding 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.

II. The marriage laws of this state shall not be construed to affect the ability of a fraternal benefit society to determine the admission of members pursuant to RSA 418:5, 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’s 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.

III. Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed or construed to limit the protections and exemptions provided to religious organizations under RSA § 354-A:18.

IV. Repeal. RSA 457-A, relative to civil unions, is repealed effective January 1, 2011, except that no new civil unions shall be established after January 1, 2010.

I’m not a law-talkin’ guy, but this seems to exempt any organization even tangentially connected to a religious institution from recognizing or providing service for anything even remotely connected to a gay couple’s marriage.

Would Governor Lynch’s new language make it legal, for example, for a hospital that gets funding from the Methodist church to not recognize a married lesbian’s rights in end-of-life decisions? Would it become legal for a Baptist adoption agency that gets public funding not to place a child with a married gay couple? If a florist takes a donation from the Knights of Columbus, does that mean they can discriminate against gays?

I’m a cynic by nature. I just can’t kick the feeling that this is a way to give the word ‘marriage’ but not the legal rights and protections associated with the word.

Once the legal eagles assure us that this proposed language wouldn’t do that, I’ll give a cheer for another step toward equality.

Does the NH Marriage Bill Include Discrimination?

I hesitate to bring this up because it’s been a great day for the cause, but while everybody else is looking at this great win, I’m looking for the “gotcha”. Unfortunately, I think I found one.

I’m talking about the bill just passed by the New Hampshire Legislature that (if the governor signs it) permits gay marriage in the state. That’s all great, but I noticed something while I was reading the bill (Yes, I actually read these things.) at the state’s official website.

One effect of this legislation is that New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA) chapter 457:4 is amended (proposed changes in bold):

457:4 Marriageable. No male below the age of 14 years and no female below the age of 13 years shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage that is entered into by one male and one female, and all marriages contracted by such persons shall be null and void. No male below the age of 18 and no female below the age of 18 shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage between persons of the same gender, and all marriages contracted by such persons shall be null and void.

Look, I don’t want to be a dick about this, but is there a reason that the marriageable age is different for gays than it is for straight folks? Why didn’t they make the marriageable ages–dare I say it–equal to the established age?

Before I go too far off the deep end, let’s note that the age of consent is defined in section 457:5 as 18 for both genders, and that people between the marriageable age and the age of consent require parental consent and court permission as permitted in section 457:6.

For all I know, this is just a leftover of bygone days and marriages under 18 haven’t been granted for years, making the entire argument moot. But if that’s the case, why not use this opportunity to wipe the whole 14/13 section out? If marriages between people under the age of consent are still granted in the state, this seems to inject new discriminatory language that recognizes an earlier age of maturity for straights than it does for lesbians and gays.

And I don’t like that. I don’t like it one bit.

Governor Lynch Holds the Fate of Marriage Equality in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has approved an amended bill to permit lesbians and gays to marry in the state. The bill now heads to Governor John Lynch’s desk. From the Union Leader:

House Bill 436, which extends the state’s marriage laws to include couples of any sex, won House approval by a vote of 178-167. The bill’s wording differs from the version the House passed in March, but its effect is basically the same.

“Any person … may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender,” the bill states.

Gov. Lynch now has the final say on gay marriage. He did not reveal his next move when speaking with reporters. He has said that he thinks the word marriage should be reserved for a union between a man and a woman.

Today, he said, “I have a responsibility as governor to do what I think is best for the people of New Hampshire. I will continue to talk with the Legislature and with the people of New Hampshire about that bill.”

You may remember that the NH House passed a bill back in March. Today’s bill reflects the changes made in the bill passed by the NH Senate last week.

That’s the second equality bill sent to a governor’s desk in two days. Progress indeed.

The ball’s in your court, Governor Lynch.

Another NOM Commercial, Another Batch of Lies

For those who haven’t heard, Miss California, who last week said that gay marriage should be illegal in favor of “opposite marriage”, has signed on as a spokesperson for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the anti-gay group that released that horrible and hilarious “Gathering Storm” ad a few weeks ago and called their campaign 2M4M.

This morning NOM released their first ad with Miss California. She doesn’t have a speaking role (it’s not her strong suit, after all), but they used footage of the broadcast to open the ad.

Okay, so first things first. Of what relevance is it that Miss California is “young”? That seems like an extraneous fact to throw in, as if her being young made the reaction to her answer more wrong. Which, of course, would be silly.

More importantly, this ad, just like “Gathering Storm”, is chock full of misrepresentations.

Opinions from “some of the nation’s foremost scholars” are mentioned, all of which proclaim that the sky is falling. Let’s take them one by one.

But first, let’s look at the slight-of-hand NOM has tried to pull off here. At the 0:45 mark in the video, a quote goes by over the blurry image of a document. Then that one disappears and is replaced by another quote over the blurry image of another document. I went hunting for these quotes (I’ll get to them in a minute), and found something amazing.

They come from the same document. While it’s technically true that the letter in question was signed by a team of lawyers, NOM clearly intended for the audience to believe they were from separate documents. In fact, they’re from the same page of that letter.

The letter (pdf here) was sent last week to Connecticut Speaker of the House Christopher G. Donovan by professors Thomas Berg of the University of St. Thomas, Carl Esbeck of the University of Missouri, Richard Garnett of the University of Notre Dame and Robin Fretwell Wilson of Washington & Lee University. Here are the quotes.

“will create widespread and unnecessary legal conflict…”

“effects would be…devastating”

(The text replaced by elipses in the second quote is “widespread and”. I guess they didn’t want it to be too obvious that the quotes were written by the same person.)

In the letter, the four present the argument that that codifying marriage equality would require businesses to recognize the legal marriages and not discriminate against those individuals.

Examples are provided, including false examples in footnote 5. One reference is the New Mexico photography studio that was told that they could not illegally refuse public accommodation as defined in §12181 (7)(f) and codified in §12182(b)(1)(A)(i). This, of course, has nothing to do with individual religious freedom, but that’s never stopped the anti-gay crowd before.

Also referenced is the case of the United Methodist owned Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which for several decades took advantage of a tax credit by allowing the pavilion and attached boardwalk to be used as public land and then was found to have violated the rights of a lesbian couple by refusing to grant them use of the public land for a commitment ceremony. Public land = Used by the entire public, even the parts that disagree with you.

But this letter doesn’t just have the problem of misused examples that have nothing to do with religious liberty. In addition, the authors rely heavily on the writings of Marc D. Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Congress, who is quoted in the letter as saying “[n]o one seriously believes that clergy will be forced, or even asked, to perform marriages that are anathema to them.”

DOT DOT DOT

No, civil marriage equality doesn’t mean preachers will be forced to perform religious marriages they don’t want to. Of course not. Even NOM-cited documents draw that obvious conclusion. But that’s a major plank of the anti-equality platform that groups like NOM like to claim.

Did they just not expect people to check this out?

I have trouble wrapping my head around the whole premise of the ad, that marriage equality will mean that people will have to treat LGBT people like everybody else with regard to marriage. Why is that a problem? Why do they expect debate over whether Christians can be exempt from complying with civil rights laws?

We aren’t trying to make anybody stop speaking. We aren’t telling people that they can’t act with bigotry. We’re saying that America is better than the current laws, and that the basic premise of liberty for all includes LGBT Americans. Why is this controversial?

Finally, I looked up the Joe Solomonese/Hardball clip. It’s from an April 8, 2009 episode and includes commentary (such as it is) by NOM president Maggie Gallagher. In fact, on the new commercial, they cover her up with a Hardball logo. Did they just not want people to know she was there? Here’s the clip. It’s almost nine minutes, but it’s very important to know the truth behind the Religious Right’s rhetoric.

In closing, yes, Maggie Gallagher, you are lying. Yes, you are promoting bigotry. Stop it. Let us (all of us) move on with our lives in peace.

New Hampshire Senate Sends Marriage Equality to Governor’s Desk

The New Hampshire Senate passed a marriage equality bill today, clearing the way for the measure (which has already passed in the New Hampshire House) to be sent to the Governor’s desk. From the New Hampshire Union Leader:

Concord – A bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New Hampshire passed the Senate today on a 13-11 vote.

The bill, amended on the Senate floor, draws a distinction between civil and religious marriage, and says that any two individuals have a right to join together in a civil marriage.

Last week Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Deborah Reynolds, D-Reynolds, opposed the bill and voted with a committee majority that it should be killed. She said voters in her district told her they favor the legislation, and urged the Senate to vote for an amendment that was drawn up Tuesday night.

She said the wording “gives everyone in the state the right to seek a civil marriage … This is a compromise that is respectful to both sides in this debate and meets our shared goals of equality in state laws for all the people of New Hampshire. The people of this sate share the core values of equality for all, tolerance and acceptance regardless of our differences”

Republicans voted in a block against the measure, joined by Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester.

Does this mean we’ll soon be adding another star to the marriage equality flag? Possibly, but there’s a rough road ahead. The governor’s against it, and neither the House nor the Senate has a veto-proof majority, as the Vermont legislature had. We’ll be sweating for every single vote!

I have to say, these amendments clarifying the difference between religious and civil marriage are a bit annoying. On the one hand, if it gets the bill through, it’s fine because the law was pretty doggone clear on the separation in the first place. On the other, it lends credibility to the notion that we want the government to take over religious institutions, which just isn’t true. For now it’s a grin-and-bear-it compromise, but it’s frustrating.

Stay tuned for further news as it becomes available.

New Hampshire House Votes For Marriage Equality

News is coming fast and furious these days. While we wait for the House of Representatives in Vermont to decide on gay marriage, their next door neighbor has made up its mind. More from Tom Fahey of the UnionLeader.com.

The New Hampshire House narrowly passed a bill today that would allow gay couples to marry.

The final vote on HB 556 was 186-179, and came after nearly three hours of debate.

The bill was amended today to state that no clergy of any religion could be required under the bill to officiate at a same-sex marriage.

Rep. David Pierce, D-Etna, in arguing for passage, told House members, “Both sides of this debate believe in the institution of marriage,” said. “We all want the same things during our time on earth. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay.”

Rep. Laura Gandia, R-Litchfield, warned it will make children of this and future generations “guinea pigs in a massive social experiment that is irreversible.”

Democrats were joined by about a dozen Republicans in passing the bill.

The final vote followed a 183-182 vote against passing the bill, an unsuccessful 177-189 attempt to kill it, and a failed effort to postpone it for more work.

In a statement after the vote, state GOP chairman John H. Sununu called the vote “another attempt by the liberal Democrats in the Legislature to impose their San Francisco agenda on the State of New Hampshire.”

The former governor said, “The small margin by which the bill passed should encourage Governor Lynch to take a stand with a clear ‘I will veto this bill if it gets to my desk’ message.”

With a governor who opposes gay marriage and a far from veto-proof margin, there’s little chance of this bill becoming law. Still, thanks to the 51% of House who voted against fear and inequality, there’s a chance.

Now we wait for the Senate vote.