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House: Wedding vendors can't deny gay couples

Last modified: 3/15/2012 12:00:00 AM
The House resoundingly defeated a bill yesterday that would have allowed photographers, caterers and others to turn away couples if they had a religious objection to their marriage.

Sponsored by Rep. Jerry Bergevin, a Manchester Republican, the bill would have allowed not only business owners but also their employees to refuse to work with gay couples or others whose relationships offended their conscience or religious beliefs.

It failed 246-85.

Bergevin cited the state Constitution's reference to piety and morality in defending his bill yesterday. He also tried to broaden it beyond same-sex couples.

'This bill is written to protect a person of faith when they leave their house of worship,' he said. 'If a Jewish catering company refuses to serve pork, they should be able to. If a photographer wants to photograph only heterosexual couples, he would be protected to do so. If a photographer wants to photograph only same-sex couples, he would be protected to do that.'

Rep. Barry Palmer, a Nashua Republican, said the sponsors were using a religious exemption to legalize discrimination. He also accused the sponsors, which included Rep. Frank Sapareto, a Derry Republican, and Rep. Joe Duarte, a Candia Republican, of using the legislation to undo the state's passage of gay marriage.

Palmer said the legislation was 'more like 1950s Mississippi than 21st century New Hampshire.'

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323 or atimmins@cmonitor.com.)


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