Gov. Lynch’s proposed language for revising New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage bill extends exemptions to “any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in
conjunction with a religious organization, association or society.” That goes farther than the language on religious exemption of other New England states, which extends only to institutions–but not, on a plain reading, so far as to give individuals exemptions simply based on personal religious convictions. Whatever, it appears that the legislature will go along and let the legal chips fall where they may. The Manchester Union-Leader is not happy. The damage, it saith, will be “widespread and irreversible.” Perhaps the end of civilization as New Hampshirites know it.
Writing in specific religious exemptions has now become a standard lever for getting SSM bills enacted. This has in no way appeased the organized opposition, since it won’t do anything to prevent gays and lesbians from actually getting married. It also has the effect of identifying opposition with religious doctrine, as distinct from, say, natural law. In so doing, it actually strengthens the case for SSM by suggesting that those defending “traditional marriage” are seeking to impose their religious beliefs on others. Which is, in fact, largely the case.