New Hampshire to Phase Out “Marriage”

Marriage — a sacred covenant between a man and a woman?  A legal and binding contract of shared financial success and loss?  A chance to get a lot of good presents from your family and friends?

The constant battle to define marriage is taking a new turn in New Hampshire, where the state government is considering the idea of eliminating marriage, or at least the government’s involvement in the process.

Via Ms. Magazine:

Introduced in January in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, HB569 would get rid of marriage. Sort of.

To be exact, the proposed bill, currently in committee, privatizes marriage. The New Hampshire state government would no longer issue marriage licenses; instead, it would grant domestic partnerships. If you wanted to get married in the traditional sense, you’d go to your religious house of choice. If you wanted the legal benefits of marriage as it currently stands, you’d get a domestic partnership. And all this would apply to gay and straight couples alike.

A group of Republican members of the New Hampshire state house proposed the bill, coming from the libertarian position that marriage is a contract:

that should be recognized and applied by the courts, but that the government has no business, in general, decreeing who may or may not make the contract or imposing any prior conditions, as licensure does.

Privatizing marriage makes a great deal of sense.  After all, marriage is a private issue that should be simply between the two people involved in the contract.

But the timing of the New Hampshire bill is what may possibly cause the most friction.  The state will be “redefining” marriage at the same time as it will be the leading primary for conservatives vying to be the next Republican presidential candidate.  Is there any chance that the “death” of the traditional marriage and the splintering of the act into “religious marriage” and “governmental domestic partnerships,” especially ones that would offer equal rights and protections to same sex couples, won’t become the key fight for a handful of candidates who believe that the only way to get the nomination is cater exclusively to the religious right?

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96 comments

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

Marriage is about love, property, rights, and convenience. Will religious institutions be responsible for that?

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Susan England
Susan E6 years ago

This proposal makes perfect sense. Every state should do the same.

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Tom Edgar
Tom Edgar6 years ago

I was married in the State Registry office. My wife took the oath whilst I made an affirmation. we enjoyed, well at least I did, 46 years together.

For those misguided who say marriage has been around forever, not so. In the relatively recent past it was the gentry who were Churchified, peasants, jumped the broomstick or the equivalent. Marriage has always been a property issue, too often the woman just being a part of that property. The common European practice in such countries as Holland,(always sensible and progressive) the couple are "Officially" married civilly and then, if they wish, they can opt for a Religious one. In Britain, Australia etc., the Pastor/Priest is licensed by the State as a wedding official.

I find it somewhat amusing that in the West, with so many now living together without the blessing of State or Church, there is this turmoil over homo' or heterosexual marriage.

My neighbours have never married, they have three children now in their teens, been together for at least 25 years, sure looks like they mean to stay together. P S their parents are divorced.

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Carolyn Mah
Carolyn M6 years ago

Melanie B. the state will govern the dissolution of the domestic partnership, just as it does for "marriages" now. As for your second point, that's covered as well. The legal "marriageable" age in NH does not change, nor do the laws regarding underage brides and grooms.

The bill is not very long, I suggest anyone with questions about it read the actual text of the bill. Most of it is the old marriage law with "marriage" crossed out and "domestic partnership" added. That and striking out the parts concerning ministers, etc. solemnizing the marriage. Basically, just a find/replace - no changes to the actual content of the law.

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Amber M.
Amber Beasley6 years ago

I agree with Jane, leave marriage alone. It's fine just the way it is, has been since the beginning of time.

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A Marina Fournier

In most of Europe, you have a civil contact if you have one at all, and only after that may you be religiously "married". Makes a lot of sense to me--we all have a government in the developed countries, but we don't all have an organized religious affiliation.

And as one other commenter said, I'd rather have only a civil contract be universal, than marriage, if my gay friends and any other gay couple could not share in that latter condition.

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Lynne B.
Lynne Buckley6 years ago

This is an interesting proposal. As a 'straight' I'd rather have a domestic partnership than deny my gay friends the right to have a gay marriage. I'm not religious, so that ceremony isn't something that I need to prove my marriage is 'blessed'. Too many couples have sworn their commitment in front of their God and ended up in the divorce courts, for me to see it as essential to marriage nowadays.

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Kevin B.
Kevin B.6 years ago

Thanks for the article; it makes a bunch of sense. Someone earlier mentioned the way things are done in France; I always thought that was the way to go.
The legal rights and responsibility of domestic partnership are critical to most couples and should be extended to same sex couples. If my partner and I have the resources we can legally arrange things so that one won't be left out on a limb if the other dies. But for most couples who don't have legal sanction, things will be horrific. See the 2004 documentary Tying the Knot, director Jim de Seve, for some of the pitfalls of not having legal sanction.
Traditionally if a man died, his wife would have access to benefits. She would not be left out in the cold. For the wealthy this doesn't have to be such an issue, but for most folks it is. Even today there are wives, and husbands, from opposite sex and same sex couples who may not be the primary bread winner of the family. That's where legal sanction, privilege, and responsibility are crucial.

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Alex G.
Alex G6 years ago

It might be a good idea. The first thing we need to do is to get more sense into the religious fanatics. There's nothing wrong with homosexuality and they deserve rights just as much as us heterosexuals. Of course gay marriage has been such a distraction to more important issues like education and the economy. It just needs to be legal and we can go on to issues that are almost infinitely more important. Republicans and Christians need to back off.

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Charlene R.
Charlene Rush6 years ago

Religion belongs, NOWHERE, in government.

I respect everyone's right to practice their religion, as long as it isn't forced upon another person, or doesn't restrict another's rights.

The religious 'fanatics', simply, want POWER & CONTROL, over the rest of us. The goal has absolutely, nothing to do with God or relision.

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