CONCORD, N.H. – In voting 186-188 Wednesday to reject language placed into same-sex marriage legislation by Democratic Gov. John Lynch that would have provided legal cover to religious groups and individuals opposed to gay marriage, the New Hampshire House of Representatives provided a stark reminder of the vast divisions that remain regarding the legalizing of marriage rights for all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, and set the stage for a possible veto by the governor of a watered-down version of the bill he wants.
As originally passed by both the House and Senate, the bill would have allowed members of the clergy who oppose gay marriage to be forced to perform same-sex marriages, but the governor wanted to include religious organizations and their employees, as well.
According to the New York Times, “The governor also wants the bill to protect religious groups and their employees from having to provide same-sex couples with religious counseling, housing designated for married people and other services that relating to “the promotion of marriage.”
The defeated bill was sent to a joint committee of the legislature, which will attempt to craft language acceptable not only to the House and Senate but also to the governor, whose spokesperson sounded an ominous note if the resulting legislation deviates too much from the version just voted down.
“The governor articulated strong principles that needed to be included in order for him to sign the bill,” Colin Manning said, said in a statement. “While he will continue to talk with lawmakers, those principles must be maintained in any final version of the bill.”