Thursday, April 5, 2007

New Hampshire's Exercise in True Conservatism

The New Hampshire House yesterday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. Governor John Lynch has yet to take a position on the bill but its passage indicates the significant transition the state has undergone over the last two decades.

Native Granite Staters, such as myself, take immense pride in their self-determination and resentment of governmental interference in their personal lives. This 'Live Free or Die' philosophy trascends itself into the state's body politic with debates over taxes, education funding -- and now the possible expansion of legal rights to same-sex couples. This legislative mindset certainly has some drawbacks but remains the norm among the majority of New Hampshire lawmakers.

This philosophy often stokes New Hampshire's conservative reputation among outsiders who remain ignorant to the current reality within the state. Fiscal responsibility, the lack of broad-based sales and income taxes and limited state government remain the cornerstones of the "New Hampshire advantage" to which elected officials proudly point. Yet so-called conservative Christian values [i.e. traditional marriage] rarely take root in the broader New Hampshire consciousness. The Union Leader certainly adds folder to this illusion but the majority of lawmakers in Concord remain committed to their laissez-faire approach to governance.

The passage of this legislation certainly reflects a common sense approach to this issue. People vote for lawmakers whom they feel will legislate on their behalf. This bill, while it does not extend full equality to same-sex couples who live in the state, is certainly a significant step forward. Elected officials too often lack the political courage to take a stand in support of equal marriage rights for all of their constituents. But those who support the bill understand the necessity to limit government's involvement in their constituents' personal lives through discriminatory statutes. These lawmakers, through this bill, are true conservatives.

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