Verbum Ultimum: An Unappealing Repeal

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 11/3/11 11:00pm

Last week, conservative lawmakers on New Hampshire's House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend a bill, H.B. 437, that would repeal the state's 2009 law legalizing same-sex marriage and replace it with a system of civil unions ("Bill could repeal same-sex marriage," Nov. 4). Under the proposed legislation, any individual could refuse without penalty to recognize these unions, and could freely discriminate against same-sex couples in housing, employment and public accommodations. The passage of this bill would be a catastrophic blow to equality and civil liberties in this state, and we strongly urge all students and community members, particularly those who plan to vote in New Hampshire next year, to vocally oppose the legislation in the coming weeks, before the House votes in January 2012.

The arguments used by repeal advocates that same-sex marriage ruins the institution, cheapens its value for traditional couples and will unravel the American family echo the discredited arguments used long ago by the opponents of interracial marriage, and have no logical basis. The inclusion of loving, committed couples willing to brave the unfortunate stigma still associated with their sexual orientation can only be a boon to the institution of marriage.

This bill reflects the beliefs of a contingent of lawmakers in the State House that is starkly out of touch with its constituents, not to mention the progressive currents in mainstream American society. A poll released by the University of New Hampshire in October found that 62 percent of New Hampshire residents oppose repealing the state's same-sex marriage law, confirming that legislators are acting in direct contradiction to the majority's position on this issue. In the "Live Free or Die" state especially, it is patently offensive that the government intends to regulate something as deeply private and personal as whom citizens can marry.

Regardless of your sexual orientation, the passage of this bill would be a blow to the rights of every New Hampshire resident. It would in effect concede that if your identity is disliked passionately enough, the government could strip your rights from you without either a rational or compelling policy-based reason. In a time in which national morale is low and confidence in our governing bodies is crumbling, passing a law to legalize discrimination is particularly illogical.

This bill is a reckless incursion against our civil liberties and is a backwards step for our progressive state that should be a leader of nationwide change. Anyone who values liberty, equality and family should oppose this prejudiced legislation.

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