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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Can't We Just "Live Free" ?

A dream turns into a nightmare.

Hadn't they fought this fight already? Hadn't it been won? ... Closure supposedly arrived one year and eight days ago, Jan. 1, 2010, when New Hampshire's new same-sex marriage law went into effect...

Now all that planning, all that lobbying, all the euphoria over marriage equality, shared by gay and heterosexual advocates alike, may be plowed under in a matter of months...

"All we're asking is that it be judged as a legal issue, not a church one, " said one speaker, whose daughter recently married her partner.

"When are we going to get that liberty and justice for all?"

And so it went at an organizing meeting of the social action committee at the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church. Similar meetings are being held across the state under the umbrella of the newly formed N.H. Live Free and Equal Coalition.

A war declared over a year and a half ago re-ignited in New Hampshire when progressives, LGBTs and friends awoke on November 3rd to find veto-proof Republican majorities in both Houses of the Legislature and many Republican legislators drooling to repeal the law.

Leo Pepino, R-Manchester, is one of the authors of a draft bill and is eager to repeal the law.

"I think we have the votes," Pepino told the Telegraph of Nashua last week. "We have a lot of really good conservatives and a good conservative doesn't believe in gay marriage. ... It's a matter of ethics."

Ethics? Must be a different ethics than I learned in cathecism class. Let's just call it what it is: bigotry and hatred that runs so deeply that the people professing these ideas have to contort them into a statement about ethical principles to be able to spout them.

What is it about the freedom to marry whom you please in a state whose motto is

Live Free or Die

and in which conservatives want nothing more eagerly than for the government to vanish in a puff of libertarian smoke that makes them unable to see the contradiction?

Consider also Iowa, where the hatred runs so deep that the bigots are demanding that the Iowa House of Representatives impeach the four remaining Supreme Court Justices who wrote a unanimous decision for marriage equality. The very idea that someone in power might disagree with them makes their blood boil. They're not just trying to vote them out of office as the law allowed them to do with three already, but to actually impeach them, having them suspended while a trial is conducted.

These are just two mild examples of the venom that is routinely spewed out by those who want to deny basic human rights to and the ethical existence of 5% or more of humanity.

But there is hope.

Decent people in New Hampshire are organizing to forestall this legislation. The Courage Campaign is getting involved. More and more national attention is being focused on the Republican wackos in the Granite State (who just a few days ago decided to make it legal for solid citizens people like Jared Loughner to carry concealed weapons within the halls of the State Legislature).

Democratic legislators in Iowa have threatened to raise holy hell if impeachment proceedings are allowed to progress:

Democrats will use "any means possible" to shut down the Iowa House if an attempt is made to impeach Supreme Court Justices.

In Rhode Island, a marriage equality bill has been introduced in both Houses of the Legislature:

Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston, reintroduced the bill on Thursday, in the hope that a hearing and a vote would occur very soon. State Senator Rhoda Perry (D-Providence) reintroduced the bill in the Senate. In the House, Handy said he had lined up at least 27 co-sponsors. There are 75 members of the House...

In his inaugural speech, Governor Chafee urged the General Assembly to pass a marriage equality bill, noting it was the right thing to do.

In Maryland, marriage equality will almost certainly be on the legislative agenda this year, coupled with a Republican 'monkey wrench' civil unions proposal:

Same-sex marriage, for all intents and purposes, already exists in Maryland... Attorney General Gansler issued an opinion that recognized out-of-state gay unions... couples can simply hop a train down to the District to get hitched before returning home with all the state rights and privileges afforded a married straight couple.

... the debate at this point boils down to whether lawmakers want gay Maryland residents to spend their wedding budgets at home or in the District.

But with a coterie of moderate Democrats and vocal Republicans opposing any endorsement of gay rights, same-sex marriage isn't quite a done deal. This week, a complication entered the picture, with the Senate's minority leader announcing that he plans to introduce a bill that would create civil unions for gay and straight couples.

In neighboring Delaware, Delaware Right to Marry is attempting to get a marriage equality bill into and passed by the Democratic legislative this year, in a state with a Democratic Governor who is expected to sign it.

And there is still hope that the New York Senate will at least vote on marriage equality this year; whether they have the votes to pass it is questionable, but nothing will happen unless an attempt is at least made, and there is clear majority support among the state's population for the measure:

he Empire State Pride Agenda said its count after the November elections showed a net gain of at least two votes for same-sex marriage. The group also said Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos has promised to bring the issue to the floor again...

A Siena College poll this month found 56 percent of New York voters would support a same-sex marriage bill, with 43 percent opposed. In 2009, most polls showed slightly over 50 percent of voters supported gay marriage.

Progress is being made. Polled person by polled person, state legislator by state legislator. This will end well, New Hampshire or no New Hampshire.

"Which comes closest to your view? Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry. OR, Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry. OR, There should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship."

Smoothed out CBS News polling on marriage.


Some day, perhaps, we will all live free.


  1. thanks for the cross-post jpm. and Happy New year too!

  2. Conservatives LOVE government. It helps them tremendously in keeping down the little people.