Saturday, February 11, 2006

Gay Marriage Hearings in NH

In neighboring New Hampshire, the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage has reached the phase of legislative hearings. Valley News points out that the hearings may backfire for the gay marriage opponents.

In an extraordinary six-hour legislative hearing reminiscent of the ones that eventually led Vermont to bless civil unions, more than 100 people testified about the proposal. While a number came to argue against same-sex unions, the majority came to support them.

This was no abstract public policy debate. Many of those who spoke did so from deep personal experience and belief. The most powerful messages came from courageous teenagers, who stood before the crowd and told of their deepest fears and fondest hopes.

Rigel Cable, a 17-year-old Hartford High senior, spoke of growing up near the leafy expanse of Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish and of his dreams to one day be married there. If the amendment passed, that dream might die.

“To be told that I cannot marry in the place where I have spent so many years is very saddening,” said the teen. “It makes me feel as though my own hometown is rejecting me.”

What I found interesting about this passage is the teen's view of marriage as a way he hopes to participate in his local community--in contrast to the image often portrayed of a separate and insular 'gay community'.

There may well be a certain fraction of gay Americans who do think of themselves that way, but the desire for gay marriage seems to be more often conceived of as striving for normalcy than it is as a fundamental challenge to society in the minds of its proponents.


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