April 5, 2007

Minefield in New Hampshire

The State of New Hampshire's House of Representatives (the lower house of its bicameral Legislature) voted overwhelmingly to create “spousal unions” for same-sex couples yesterday.

Not known as a hotbed of liberal activism, New Hampshire does nevertheless seem to constantly insist on doing things its own way. It’s been pointed out that the language of the bill itself is a new phrase, “spousal union.” What, then, is the difference between a “domestic partnership,” “civil union,” “spousal union,” “marital union,” and “marriage”? Why do these semantics matter so much?

Perhaps more interesting to note is that New Hampshire is a early stop in the Presidential primary schedule. This action will likely require the candidates of both parties to explain their positions on this issue in a state with a strong libertarian streak running through both of its political parties – creating a huge political minefield for candidates who want to do well in New Hampshire to show “momentum,” but who also do not want to alienate that segment of the electorate that cares so intensely about the semantic issues raised in the previous paragraph.

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