Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Hampshire, The "Live Free or Die! (Unless You're Gay)" State

Earlier in 2009 I went to the state house in Concord New Hampshire and filmed some of the most vitriolic testimony I've ever witnessed against the equal rights of GLBT people. Some statements were so backwards that in one instance a man told the legislative panel consisting of several women legislators that we should go back to a time when women wore dresses instead of pants. Chillingly, this elicited applause rather than the disapproval it should have, making me wonder what the hell happened to the "Live Free or Die!" state.

As most people know New Hampshire legislators voted to extend marriage equality to same sex couples, that change taking place January 1, 2010 only weeks ago. This came after several very heated public meetings in which it became very clear that religious beliefs are being openly used to justify the majority's call to deny equality to those lifestyles they don't approve of regardless of the fact that they have not proven any benefit to doing so.

Associated Press - February 15, 2010 8:15 AM ET
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire's House votes Wednesday whether to repeal the state's six-week-old law legalizing gay marriage. The House also will vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The Judiciary Committee is recommending that the House kill both measures. Gay marriage supporters said gay couples have gotten married without any detrimental impact on society. They also said it would be wrong to enshrine discrimination in the Constitution. Opponents said the consummation of gay unions can't be spoken of in polite society. They also said voters should decide, not lawmakers if the marriages should be allowed.

This leaves me wanting to ask the public; do we have a right to restrict our neighbors liberties simply because we disagree with their choices? My instinct is to say no since one of the inalienable rights listed in the Bill of Rights is the pursuit of happiness. My second point is one based on religious freedom. I'm well versed in Catholicism and once had the notion I'd be a Catholic priest, and it is my opinion that the Church's official stance against GLBT equality is not Christ's will, but rather the will of those who know how turn hate and fear into a money making business. If we truly had religious freedom in our country and in the state of New Hampshire how is it that I cannot live by the terms I believe in? I am again looking at the threat that my government is going to side with another religion against me without a stitch of proof  of harm needed. So much for the seperation of church and state.

Another thing that really gets under my skin are all the bald faced lies said to scare conservative bigots into believing their children are at risk someone because GLBT people now have marriage equality. Here's a fine example of this attempt from N.H. state Rep. Nancy Elliot of Merrimack:

During a judiciary committee hearing last week in Concord for a bill that would repeal same-sex marriage, Elliott, R-Merrimack, said a parent called her and told her that fifth-grade students in Nashua were being shown naked pictures of men and taught how to engage in anal sex. Elliott did not name the parent but blamed the state’s passage of same-sex marriage for the graphic subject matter being introduced to elementary schoolchildren.

“Because we have made a marriage of same sex, they are now teaching it in public school. They are showing our fifth-graders how they can actually perform this kind of sex,” Elliott said.

Since this outrageous statement was made some of the moderate middle have come forward to finally question this claim and hold Rep. Elliot accountable for her allegations:

“Either turn in the name of the ‘mother’ whose child was subjected to this alleged display of pornography to the Nashua Police Department, as required by law to protect the children, or recant and apologize publicly,” Ward 3 Alderman Diane Sheehan wrote in an e-mail she sent to Elliott on Sunday afternoon.
“If neither of those two actions take place in the next 48 hours, I will begin exploring action to prosecute for false statement, and your removal from office,” Sheehan wrote.

Tomorrow marks the next time American equality will be up for a vote; Lurleen, over on Pam's House Blend has more to this story as well as links to those who wish to contact N.H. legislators prior to their vote. A big thank you should be sent to Alderman Sheehan for her courageous stand for truthfulness in this and all matters. America needs more people interested in standing up for what's right regardless of what they personally believe in the matter.

"I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -Evelyn Beatrice Hall 
Hall's quote is often cited to describe the principle of free speech; the essence of liberty. New Hampshire had it's own version of such a liberal; General John Stark who coined the term:

"Live Free or Die!" which was shortened from "Live Free or Die! There are worse things than death!"

He was talking about oppression of both freedom and religion.

1 comment:

John said...

The "story" about the Nashua "mother" reminds me of this little fable.

A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy."

"Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull. "They're packed with nutrients."

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it actually gave him enough strength to reach the first branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally, after a fortnight, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree.

Soon, though, the turkey was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

Moral Of The Story:
Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.