Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”     Milton Friedman

May 31, 2007

Civil unions granted in New Hampshire

by Jason Pye

The Governor of New Hampshire has signed a bill granting civil unions to gay and lesbian couples into law:

Gay couples in New Hampshire will able to join in civil unions starting next year under a bill Gov. John Lynch signed into law Thursday.

“We in New Hampshire have had a long and proud tradition taking the lead and opposing discrimination,” Lynch said. “Today that tradition continues.”

Couples entering civil unions will have the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as married couples. Same-sex unions from other states also would be recognized if they were legal in the state where they were performed.

Several Northeastern states already offer civil unions.

Massachusetts alone among the U.S. states allows gay marriage. Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Maine, as well as California and Washington allow either civil unions or domestic partnerships, and Oregon will join the list with New Hampshire in January. Hawaii extends certain spousal rights to same-sex couples and cohabiting heterosexual pairs.

I prefer to refer to it as extending equal protection under the law or recognizing the individual’s right to contract (a negative liberty). Really government should not take preference towards any group, whether they are married or gay, black or white. It is a matter of individual liberty.

Many people, specifically the younger generation, are becoming more socially tolerant on matters like this. The harm principle argument is becoming relevant again, to some extent at least. A crusade against gays is not a national platform to win elections. It is at best a temporary, meaningless political issue to cater to Pat Robertson and James Dobson as a mean to drive…dare I say it…”Christianists” (those who have turned their religious beliefs into a political philosophy) to the polls.

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21 Comments

  1. >> I prefer to refer to it as extending equal protection under the law or recognizing the individual’s right to contract (a negative liberty).

    Marriage is not a contract. A family is not a business.

    >> Really government should not take preference towards any group, whether they are married or gay, black or white. It is a matter of individual liberty.

    Actually, a human society is considerably more complex than you seem to understand. A free society cannot exist without stable families producing mentally healthy citizens.

    Liberty is an important pillar of a moral system, but is only one right among several. For example, a child has the right to a mother and a father. Without educated, critical thinkers as citizens, society falls apart rather quickly. Like it or not, the reality is that the family is the only way this can be achieved, since humans learn best from their families.

    Therefore, government has a role in supporting the family based on

    domestic Tranquility, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves

    The plain facts are that a robust economy is crucial to the welfare of these United States. The economy is dependent on population. Without support for marriage, it seems like humans tend towards a low birth rate. Countries like Italy have a birthrate of 1.1, which means that in 50 years, the population will halve, and so will the GDP. In places like Russia, depopulation has progressed so far, that they are offering a free house to those families that have a 2nd child.

    It is for this purpose that Marriage exists: to provide a stable place to raise children. Since gay folks cannot have children, there is no reason for them to be married.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with gays, my best friend is gay. However, they want marriage because they want the implied social acceptance. Unfortunately, social acceptance can’t be legislated, and the result of all this is actually to devalue marriage. Empirical evidence from Norway bears out that an attempt to change the definition of marriage only results in the concept disappearing. If two men can marry, then why not 1 man and 5 women, 1 woman and 3 men, 31 men and 45 women and a dog?

    Unless you think polygamy is good for society, the only rational position is to have a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between 1 man and 1 woman. The founders would definitely have supported this, but the family was so secure at that point.

    Comment by Gunnar — May 31, 2007 @ 12:38 pm
  2. Interesting, how about this compromise.

    Marriage is a contract between two individuals/parties that want to communally share property based primarily on a sexual relationship.
    This contract is given by a church. The Government cannot force a church to accept or deny the validly of this contract based on the parties involved.It is up to the church to decide whether a homosexual, or a polygamy centered marriage is viable. If a homosexual couple is not allowed to marry by one church, than they will marry by another. I personally believe that marriage is a contract that should be reserved for heterosexual couples, but I also believe that to use force to subjugate others to my opinions, even if they are based on facts,is wrong, unless they directly interfere with the wellbeing of another individual or party. Gays adopting essentially compete with heterosexuals adopting, therefore, only if a Gay couple truly was willing to sacrifice more for the child. The commentor above is right however, in saying that a child is advantaged by having a family, certain research has shown that Heterosexual couples have an advantage over other couples, however, the real thing at the heart of this is a support system. A support system based on a heterosexual relationship might (key word might) be superior to other forms.

    Comment by someguy — May 31, 2007 @ 1:35 pm
  3. >> Marriage is a contract between two individuals/parties that want to communally share property based primarily on a sexual relationship.

    If that were the only purpose, then why would the government be involved at all? If it is truly a contract, then why not sign a contract and be done with. You simply don’t need to call it marriage to have a contract that shares property.

    The qualifications for Adopting are rightfully controlled by the process of democracy. The public simply won’t support gay adoption in the long run. The reality is that 1) a child deserves a mother and a father 2) for an adoption to succeed, the family and child need to be extraordinarily stable. 3) even normal adoption often doesn’t stick because children are likely to seek their “real” parents. 4) empirical evidence says that gay couples just don’t stay together.

    Comment by Gunnar — May 31, 2007 @ 1:56 pm
  4. If that were the only purpose, then why would the government be involved at all? If it is truly a contract, then why not sign a contract and be done with. You simply don’t need to call it marriage to have a contract that shares property.

    I actually agree with this statement. Only, I say that that is all there should be is the legally binding contract. Get the religion out. The terms can be negotiated like any other contract, including the terms for dissolving the union. Yes, this puts heterosexuals, homosexuals, and polygamists on the same footing, but why should care? How does who other people choose to share their assets & liabilities with affect you? If people then want to have some church bless their union, fine.

    As you statements about homosexual couples adopting children, you can’t use statements citing “empirical evidence” without at least providing a link to the source.

    Comment by Nick M — May 31, 2007 @ 2:29 pm
  5. Marriage is not a contract. A family is not a business.

    A marriage license, for all intents and purposes, is a contract.

    For example, a child has the right to a mother and a father. Without educated, critical thinkers as citizens, society falls apart rather quickly. Like it or not, the reality is that the family is the only way this can be achieved, since humans learn best from their families.

    I recently had a conversation with a very conservative member of my state legislature who has adopted several children, at least four. He was one of several legislators to block a ban on gay adoptions here in Georgia. His reasoning was simple. It is better for them to be in the care of an individual (or individuals) who is going to love and provide for them. The fact they the prospective parent is gay or not should mean absolutely nothing.

    A free society cannot exist without stable families producing mentally healthy citizens.

    Are you implying that children who live in gay households are mentally ill?

    Comment by Jason Pye — May 31, 2007 @ 3:12 pm
  6. I think he is implying that ‘teh gay’ is a mental illness. We must cure them of this disease like any other. Oddly enough, I was flipping thru the teevee channels the other day and came across “Saved”, a fairly craptastic movie starring Mandy Moore, where they sent people away to be cured of ‘teh gay’ and teen pregnancy.

    Comment by Nick M — May 31, 2007 @ 3:18 pm
  7. >> I actually agree with this statement. Only, I say that that is all there should be is the legally binding contract. Get the religion out. The terms can be negotiated like any other contract, including the terms for dissolving the union.

    You do? You seem to have missed the point. There is nothing to stop people from contracting with each other right now. As such, there is no reason to change the definition of marriage.

    >> polygamists

    It’s an undeniable fact that polygamy is bad for children. Do you doubt this fact? Society has a right to regulate what constitutes a family. Otherwise, a man could marry his 1 year old daughter. A woman could marry her cat.

    >> How does who other people choose to share their assets & liabilities with affect you?

    Marriage is NOT about sharing assets and liabilities. It’s about raising children.

    >> As you statements about homosexual couples adopting children, you can’t use statements citing “empirical evidence” without at least providing a link to the source.

    It’s so well known, that I didn’t think this would be necessary, but maybe you’re from Rio Linda: http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS04C02

    >> A marriage license, for all intents and purposes, is a contract.

    No, that’s where you are totally wrong. You wanting it to be so, doesn’t make it so. I’ll repeat: Marriage is not a contract. A family is not a business. If it were, we could just use contracts. Perhaps you also think a parent-child relationship is a contract?

    >> It is better for them to be in the care of an individual (or individuals) who is going to love and provide for them. The fact they the prospective parent is gay or not should mean absolutely nothing.

    Facts do matter, see the link above. And when the gay couple go their separate ways, the child would suffer. By this logic, we should let anyone adopt, single partiers, old geezers.

    >> Are you implying that children who live in gay households are mentally ill?

    Folks, this comment is not intellectually honest. You can read the context above, and see that I was actually making the case for why government has an interest in protecting and supporting marriage as between one man and one woman. Consider that when the welfare system changed family structure to be fatherless, gangs were the result. This is reality. Pure liberty for adults doesn’t account for the rights of children. It’s an unstable system that fails to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and to our posterity”.

    Comment by Gunnar — May 31, 2007 @ 5:39 pm
  8. 4) empirical evidence says that gay couples just don’t stay together.

    Yeah, because empirical evidence on heterosexual marriage shows a whopping success rate (and that’s not even counting kids born out of wedlock).

    I’m 28. I’m married, as are several of my close friends that are all the same age as I am. And several of the friends that are my own age are already divorced. But I’d put the divorce pile at 20-40%, and that’s for people who all got married only a few years ago… Luckily only one that I can think of had children before it happened. I’m sure there will be more fallout among that group in the next 5 years. I’ll bet the majority of people in my age group are experiencing similar things amongst our peers.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — May 31, 2007 @ 5:42 pm
  9. If that were the only purpose, then why would the government be involved at all? If it is truly a contract, then why not sign a contract and be done with. You simply don’t need to call it marriage to have a contract that shares property.

    This argument is actually a great one. I don’t think the government should give *ANYONE* a marriage license. If anything, they should give civil unions, but that’s it.

    There are two definitions of marriage right now, a religious definition and a legal definition. The legal definition would be more accurately defined as a civil union. But calling them the same thing gets everyone’s panties up in a bunch…

    Separate the words. Let the state give any consenting adults a civil union, and let the church decide who gets married. It’s the only fair way to do it (if the state will get involved at all, that is).

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — May 31, 2007 @ 6:18 pm
  10. Otherwise, a man could marry his 1 year old daughter. A woman could marry her cat.

    I normally try to be nice on the internet, especially on this site, as one of the contributors is a personal friend of mine, but I can’t let this slide.

    Gunnar, you are a disingenuous prick. You already can’t contract with minors or animals. Please use valid arguments, not the strawman of: “If we let the gays marry, we’ll have to let the polygamists marry, and then we’ll have to let pedophiles marry kids, let people marry animals!!”

    Nick

    Comment by Nick M. — May 31, 2007 @ 8:41 pm
  11. I wrote the following in response to a survey a while back:

    6. Lets get back to something controversial. Gay Marriage. Views, anyone?

    I am all for it. Let them get married. I also am in favor of bigamy and polygamy being legal. A woman married to a woman. A woman married to multiple men. A man married to a man. A man married to multiple women. Men married to multiple men and/or women. It’s all good to me.

    On the subject of marriage, I believe that the government should step out of marriage licenses. Instead, they should get into contracts. For example:

    Judy, Mike, and David decide they want to get married. They draft a contract that states that they will be legally married for 4 years. They include an easy out in the event that any of the others strays outside the bounds of marriage in terms of sexual gratification.

    4 years later, they decide that they enjoyed that time together, but want to add Susan. So they draft a 2 year contract with the same terms.

    2 years later, they felt Susan did not work in the marriage. So, Judy, Mike, and David decide to go the distance. They draft a “till death do us part” contract for the three of them, with the same easy out clause. 7 years later, Mike wants out. So mike strays. He pays the penalty for breaking the contract, and is free, and Judy and David are still happily married, and considering adding another husband for a few years on a separate contract.

    As for polygamy being bad for children, there is no solid proof for such a claim. In fact, I can point to some polyamorous relationships where the children involved are doing quite well. It’s not actually polygamy, as they state will not allow them to marry, but they do well.

    Have you ever heard the statement that it takes a village to raise a child.

    There are groups of people who raise good, moral, healthy children.

    There are heterosexuals who raise good, moral, healthy children.

    There are homosexuals who raise good, moral, healthy children.

    There are single parents who raise good, moral, healthy children.

    But it is a fact that the state does a piss poor job. I’ve been involved with state adoption agencies since a very early age. My parents, whom I love and admire, gave me a lot of temporary brothers and sisters through foster care.

    I’d prefer that children be raised by someone who loves them rather than the state. I do not care if it is a single parent who raises the kid, two homosexuals, two heterosexuals, or a group of people.

    But I can point to lots of people who are heterosexual and abuse their children. Who abuse their significant others. Heterosexual divorce is over 50 percent.

    Lots of children of divorced parents do very well now. I actually believe that much “harm” that most children received from divorce was due to the social stigmas. Not all “harm,” but much of it.

    Parents will still love their children after a divorce if they loved their children before one.

    Just my two cents.

    Comment by Ted — May 31, 2007 @ 8:54 pm
  12. >> I don’t think the government should give *ANYONE* a marriage license.

    Yes, but you haven’t dealt with the arguments about why the state has an interest in supporting marriage.

    Comment by Gunnar — June 1, 2007 @ 8:57 am
  13. >> Gunnar, you are a disingenuous prick. You already can’t contract with minors or animals. Please use valid arguments, not the strawman of: “If we let the gays marry, we’ll have to let the polygamists marry, and then we’ll have to let pedophiles marry kids, let people marry animals!!”

    Don’t be so old fashioned, you throw away a tradition thousands of years old, and then claim some other arbitrary rules? You are trapped in your false arguments. People less than 18 CAN get married, so clearly, it’s not a contract. Your wishing that it were doesn’t make it so.

    Some of the folks who advocate for gay marriage also advocate pedophilia (ManBoyLove). Deal with it.

    You can bury your head in the sand, but that doesn’t change the fact that once you change the definition of marriage, you have no logical reason to argue against polygamy. Why should the state intrude into people’s private lives?

    And if sex is all that matters, then why not let someone marry a horse. Make an argument why not.

    And if marriage is not about raising children in a healthy environment, but it’s about sex, then anyone who can have sex can get married. Who are you to tell people they can’t get married. The manboylove folks want to get married, so let them. It’s none of your business. It’s better for the child to be loved.

    Comment by Gunnar — June 1, 2007 @ 9:21 am
  14. >> But I can point to lots of people

    Yes, but anecdotals don’t amount to evidence: http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS04C02

    >> Lots of children of divorced parents do well

    Anything to back up this absurd claim?

    >> I actually believe that much “harm” that most children received from divorce was due to the social stigmas.

    What, you don’t think there is any stigma to being raised by gays or by polygamists? You think the school kids will let that slide?

    >> Parents will still love their children after a divorce if they loved their children before one.

    Yes, of course, but parents are then forced to compete for the children’s approval. They can longer enforce any rules.

    >> Just my two cents.

    Since it was all unsupported opinions, it was really only worth two cents.

    Comment by Gunnar — June 1, 2007 @ 9:33 am
  15. Nick M

    actually agree with this statement. Only, I say that that is all there should be is the legally binding contract. Get the religion out. The terms can be negotiated like any other contract, including the terms for dissolving the union. Yes, this puts heterosexuals, homosexuals, and polygamists on the same footing, but why should care? How does who other people choose to share their assets & liabilities with affect you? If people then want to have some church bless their union, fine.

    To expand on your remarks, prenuptial agreements provide a contractual-like mechanism for rules once the marriage exists or has dissolved. In addition, the religious aspect – although included by many – is not a necessary condition for marriage, since one use the Justice of the Peace option and be married without religious fanfare whatsoever.

    Comment by David T — June 1, 2007 @ 10:24 am
  16. >> prenuptial agreements provide a contractual-like mechanism for rules once the marriage exists or has dissolved.

    Prenups are definite contracts, not just contract-like. Still, the original claim that marriages are contracts is completely unsupported.

    Comment by Gunnar — June 1, 2007 @ 10:35 am
  17. Bottom line: Many people here seem to want a world where there is no “marriage”, and want contracts for unions of various sorts. But you can have that world right now. There is nothing in law that prevents you having contracts as you see fit. Why does other people getting “married” bother you? Why don’t you just say “silly traditionalists, well, live and let live”?

    When you answer that question, you will have the heart of the matter. You don’t want some people getting married, because, deep down…

    Comment by Gunnar — June 1, 2007 @ 10:43 am
  18. When you answer that question, you will have the heart of the matter. You don’t want some people getting married, because, deep down…

    I think that having some douchebag read from the bible to “bless this union” is ridiculous. Everyone goes through the contract process. If you want Jesus, Allah, FSM, Zod, etc. to be in on the deal afterwards, fine. But don’t think you get special treatment by the government because you’re religious.

    Comment by Nick M — June 1, 2007 @ 3:38 pm
  19. >> I think that having some douchebag read from the bible to “bless this union” is ridiculous. Everyone goes through the contract process. If you want Jesus, Allah, FSM, Zod, etc. to be in on the deal afterwards, fine. But don’t think you get special treatment by the government because you’re religious.

    I have not made ANY religious arguments. None of this has anything to do with religion, so I wonder why you explode with an anti-religious tirade? A little lacking in the critical thinking department, perhaps?

    >> But don’t think you get special treatment by the government because you’re religious.

    I’ve made a substantive argument that government should protect marriage to maximize GDP and the workings of a free society. I’ve never said that religion has anything to do with it. You seem to have some obsession with religion. Fresh out of arguments perhaps?

    Comment by Gunnar — June 1, 2007 @ 5:28 pm
  20. Your cited study comes from FRC, whose motto is “Defending Family, Faith, and Freedom. All of their propoganda is about the christian religion and the “assault” on it. Can’t use a religious organization for a source and then say that “I have not made ANY religious arguments.”

    I’m not out of arguments, it’s 4:00 PM Friday afternoon. I will be back to argue sometime Sunday.

    Comment by Nick M — June 1, 2007 @ 6:04 pm
  21. >> Can’t use a religious organization for a source and then say that “I have not made ANY religious arguments.”

    Ahh, but that’s a logic fallacy if there ever was one, like a negative argument by authority. Unable to lay a hand on the actual arguments I’ve made, you can’t even manage to counter the “evidence” gathered by the FRC. You are simply sputtering in the wind, claiming that the source is not credible, because you don’t like their motives.

    Anyone who is reduced to ad-hominem attacks and “you can’t be right, you’re using evidence from folks I don’t like” is really quite pathetic.

    Comment by Gunnar — June 1, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

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