Portsmouth leader proposes marriage equality statement
PORTSMOUTH - The assistant mayor of one of the state's largest cities is proposing a statement on Monday on marriage equality.
Jim Splaine, who has served in the state legislature in addition to his city duties, says he has been openly gay since the 1980s.
"We as a city support marriage equality," Splaine says. "Here in Portsmouth, the City of the Open Door, we serve everybody. And that we're open for business, no matter what some other states might say."
He is issuing his proposal in New Hampshire around the same time Indiana's controversial "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" was signed by the state's governor.
Debate over the act has been ramping up as opponents say the legislation would allow businesses to deny services to gay couples.
But at a small flower shop on Market Street in Portsmouth on Thursday afternoon, a business owner said she thinks that method of thinking isn't acceptable.
"We've been doing same-sex weddings for about 10 years," said Betsy Scott of Flower Kiosk. "I don't feel a family is just a husband and a wife."
Scott said her flower shop has served dozens of same-sex couples over the years - and she has enjoyed the uniqueness and creativity that gay weddings often present.
According to Splaine, he has received positive feedback throughout the city.
"We're all equal," said April Welch, who displayed a tattoo that reads 'Judge Not.' "I don't care what color, or what nationality, or what sexual preference you have - I don't care. We're all equal."
Splaine will submit the statement to the Portsmouth City Council at Monday's meeting.
Read the proposed statement in full below:
Statement To The
United States Supreme Court
Supporting Marriage Equality
The City of Portsmouth, New Hampshire has long been a leader in support of equality for our gay, lesbian, and transgender residents, and we have proudly celebrated the diversity of the cultures, races, nationalities and religions of our residents and visitors.
The State of New Hampshire was the 5th state to formally adopt marriage equality, in a law which became effective on January 1, 2010, at 12:01 AM.
As of Monday, March 30, 2015, there have been 3,318 same-sex marriages celebrated in the State of New Hampshire, with 234 same-sex marriage licenses being issued by the City of Portsmouth, according to the N.H. Division of Vital Statistics Administration of the Office of Secretary of State.
Local government, as well as government at all levels, has an obligation to support equality for all of our citizens. There is nothing on this planet more important than the way we treat one another as human beings.
The people of Portsmouth and New Hampshire had early roles in the founding of our nation.
On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire was the ninth state to ratify the United States Constitution. Because of that action on that date, the Constitution became official. We note that John Langdon, one of the signers of our Constitution on September 17, 1787, is buried in Portsmouth at our Old North Burial Ground, also known as our North Cemetery. Considered one of our nation's Founding Fathers, Langdon was also the first President Pro-Tempore of the United States Senate.
William Whipple, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, ratified on July 4, 1776, is also buried in our North Cemetery.
With Portsmouth's history as being an important part of the American concepts of freedom and justice to guide our hearts and our minds, we ask that the U.S. Supreme Court support marriage equality for all American citizens in the decision it will make in the coming weeks.
Also, in response to recently passed laws in some states which may allow discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender residents and visitors, we want it known that here in Portsmouth and New Hampshire we are "Open For Business: We Serve Everyone." Visitors will find us welcoming of the great diversity of human beings.
We encourage freedom, and our "City of the Open Door" is more than just our long-held motto. We are reminded of the thought-provoking words of Martin Luther King, Jr. as he spoke in Washington on August 28, 1963, "From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring."
Portsmouth City Councilors
City of Portsmouth