Same-sex marriage is moving forward nationally, if not in Arkansas. With it comes emerging questions about protections for religious institutions and others with contrary beliefs. This has slowed New Hampshire’s approval of a same-sex marriage law.
For some time, scholars have debated this issue, and some are now urging states considering same-sex marriage laws to include strong protections for religious organizations. Some are even suggesting protections for individuals and small businesses who offer services for weddings — like photographers, florists, caterers, bakers, wedding planners and musicians. The argument is that these individuals and businesses might have religious objections to gay couples’ marrying and could be exposed to sizable fines or strong penalties under nondiscrimination statutes.
The deliberations in New Hampshire could have implications for New York, where the legalization of same-sex marriage hovers on the brink without the kind of protection for religious groups that Mr. Lynch demanded. New Hampshire’s experience may also affect current debates in the District of Columbia and Rhode Island, or even in California, if the State Supreme Court there rules next week either to overturn Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that passed last November or to uphold the marriages performed for 18,000 same-sex couples before November.