28 February 2011
Two years ago, New Hampshire became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Now state Representatives David Bates and Leo Pepino are sponsoring a bill that would repeal the same-sex marriage law. According to surveys, voters in New Hampshire oppose a repeal by a nearly two to one margin.
Now, I must say that I got a chuckle out of something in this story. When I went to Catholic school, the nuns used to refer to the boys as "Master" followed by their last names. So, as an example, I was Master Valinotti.
Because the neighborhood surrounding the school was mainly Italian and Jewish (though not many of the latter went to our school), there weren't many kids named Bates. I can't recall any. So what would the nuns have called David Bates?
I'm sure someone must have asked this question.
Anyway...You know how some things and people don't go down without a fight. (If you read a sexual connotation into the previous sentence, it's on you!) Well, it seems like any laws that protect LGBT people or give us the same rights as everyone else don't come up or pass without a fight. The moment any such law is passed, the opposition is ready to do battle.
You might think this is paradoxical, but I think that it's important to have laws that allow gay marriage for exactly the same reasons why I oppose them in principle.
I believe that the government should not be involved in any way with marriage, and that no one should get tax or any other benefits for being married. If the government is to be involved in deciding whose marriages are legitimate, it should simply give the equivalent of a Domestic Partnership Agreement to any two people over the age of 18 who want to hook up. Then, if they want to legitimize their relationship as a marriage, they should go to their church, synagogue, mosque or whatever so unites people in their communities.
However, I am enough of a realist to know that probably won't happen, at least not in my lifetime. So I think that the best we can do in terms of equality is to make same-sex marriages legal.
The funny thing about New Hampshire is that it was always considered a "conservative" state. Yet there has always been a very strong tradition of minding one's own business--which, by the way, isn't the same as "live and let live." While it was one of the most reliably Republican states (even as it was surrounded by some of the "bluest" states in the nation), it has never completely embraced some of the most reactionary notions espoused by the Far Right. That may be because Christian Fundamentalism wasn't part of the mix, or at least wasn't as much a part of the mix, as it has been in some of the Southern states.
I don't know much about Bates and Pepino. So I can only wonder on what, exactly, are they basing their opposition to the same-sex marriage law. If they not motivated by religious beliefs (which, I'm discovering, actually plays less into anti-gay legislation than I'd previously assumed), what else motivates them but pure and simple bigotry? From what I know about New Hampshire natives from the few I've known and the little time I've spent there, I don't think such prejudice will move them: If nothing else, how much can they hate (or, for that matter, love) someone whose business they're ignoring? Plus, a lot of Bostonians have moved to the state, at least along its coast and in its southern part. Combine the tolerance they have developed simply by living in a metropolis with the native propensity for not interfering in other people's lives, and it's hard to see how the law is going to be repealed.