I believe that the decisions were handed down correctly. The voters acted within the constitution to amend same, and marriages performed during the period such marriages were legal are still legal.
That said, I think the state should get out of the marriage business all together. When I was married the first time, in Germany, I had to go to the city clerk’s office and have a civil union ceremony. This was the only legal, contractual ceremony. A couple obtains their civil wedding license, then goes to a church to have a religious ceremony if they so desire.
This renders unto Caesar what is Caesar’s (contact, inheritance rights, dissolution rights, medical rights, etc.) and render’s unto God what is God’s (the religious ceremony).
So we should let the state decide which contractual relationships are legal, be they same-sex or opposite sex, and the state can make dispositions on dissolution of said contractual relationships just as they do now, except that these relationships shall all be called civil unions. All people who are currently considered “married” will be grandfathered under the civil unions. All new relationships will be civil unions and if the couple wants to be married in a religious ceremony, the couple has only to find a member of clergy willing to perform such a ceremony for the couple and they will be married as well.
Before we get to the slippery slope argument of what’s to stop a female-male-male (polandry) or male-female-female (polygamy), or man-goat, woman-dog, or what have you, let’s remember that the state already has limits on who can enter a contractual relationship. The state has limits on age, consanguinity, and others. These same limitations can apply to poly-relationships and cross-species relationships, and can do so legally, since the relational contract is a legal one.
The New Hampshire House passed a same-sex marriage bill, then the senate passed a similar bill with protections for religious organizations and personnel in it. The Democrat Governor said he would only sign such a bill if those protections were in place. Because the Senate passed a different bill than the House did, the amended bill went back to the House for a vote. The House did not pass the bill with the protections in it. Via CNN:
The House and Senate have approved allowing gay couples to marry.
But Gov. John Lynch, a three-term Democrat, said last week he would sign a same-sex marriage bill only if it provides “the strongest and clearest protections for religious institutions and associations, and for the individuals working with such institutions.”
Lynch said any such measure needs to “make clear that [clergy and other religious officials] cannot be forced to act in ways that violate their deeply held religious principles.”
The House on Wednesday fell two votes short of approving Lynch’s language, 186-188.
The chamber then voted to send the legislation to a committee to be considered further.
The language would specify that religious organizations can decline to take part in any marriage ceremony without incurring fines or risking lawsuits. (emphasis mine)
If the state was only responsible for the contractual side of the relationship, and the marriage side was solely under the purview of whatever religion or non-religion one chooses, then this issue would be moot.
Religious organizations should be able to decline to perform any ceremony that they wish to. That is a right guaranteed under the First Amendment. It’s really a shame that Governor Lynch felt he had to include protections against liability for religious institutions. It’s a bigger shame that the House would not pass the legislation with those protections in place.
Is it really just about equal rights?