Bill to allow refusal of service for gay weddings squashed
Supporters of House Bill 1264 said a person or business should not have to provide services if it is contrary to their religious tenets or would violate their beliefs.
';This should be a very alarming warning,'; said the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Jerry Bergevin, R-Manchester. ';It means we are moving into a brave new world. It may not be your ox being gored at the moment, but just wait, it will be.';
Bill opponents said the bill would codify discrimination.
Rep. Barry Palmer, R-Nashua, who was a member of the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission, called the bill unconstitutional, illegal, immoral and mean-spirited.
';I have a rough idea of what discrimination is,'; he said. ';This bill is illegal by state statute and illegal by federal law.';
The House killed the bill Wednesday by a 246-85 vote.
Under the bill, a business owner or employee would not have to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for a wedding ceremony if they had a religious or conscience objection. The person also would not be legally liable for his or her action.
Bergevin said the bill would protect a person of faith when he or she leaves a house of worship and goes to his or her everyday life.
';If a Jewish caterer wants to refuse to serve pork at a wedding reception,'; they would be protected for doing so,'; he said.
House Deputy Majority Leader Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, said clergy members are protected under the state's gay marriage law.
To allow business or individuals with certain beliefs to refuse to provide services ';would be an extremely slippery slope to be traveling down.';
People have the right to purchase goods and services from whomever they wish, he said. ';No one should ever be able to put up a sign in New Hampshire that says ';Poultry farmers not welcome.'';