Same-sex marriage has been legalized in the state of New Hampshire for two years, but a bill before the state legislature could allow businesses, like caterers, florists, and dress shops, to refuse their services to these couples.
The bill’s co-sponsor, state representative Frank Sapareto, says he created the legislation so that members of the clergy would not have to perform ceremonies that don’t fit in with their particular beliefs. But others point out that men and women of the cloth are already not legally obligated to marry same-sex couples, or any coupling for that matter.
According to Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, MA:
The proposed text says no person, including a business owner or employee, should be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for wedding services in “violation of the person’s conscience or religious faith.”
The bill also would protect against lawsuits arising from refusal to provide those services.
Opponents of the legislation claim that it would effectively allow business owners to discriminate against couples, regardless of sexual orientation, whose religious beliefs aren’t their own.
“All discrimination is wrong and should not be codified in state law,” said Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein, using the example that under the proposed law, “A Protestant baker could refuse to bake a cake for a Catholic wedding.”
As for those who oppose the legislation, Representative Sapareto says, “They’re completely intolerant.”
NH bill would allow refusal of services to gay couples [EagleTribune.com]