Some newly elected NH Republicans may vote against marriage repeal

Timothy Kincaid

January 15th, 2011

When November’s election revealed that Republicans had achieved a super-majority (enough to overturn a veto) in New Hampshire, the National Organization for Marriage and other anti-gay activist groups gloated. Assuming that Republican registration equals anti-gay, they announced that they would immediately reverse New Hampshire’s marriage equality laws and override Governor Lynch’s veto to do so.

But the incoming Republican leadership isn’t interested in battling over marriage rights. It wants, instead, to deal with budget, taxes, regulation, business environment, and other fiscal matters. Anti-gay marriage is not on the leadership’s agenda.

Individual Republicans, however, have introduced language to reverse last year’s law. And social conservatives are assuming that when it comes time to vote they will have adequate power to overturn Lynch’s veto.

I’m not so sure. And neither are some in the Republican Caucus (The Dartmouth)

State Rep. Steven Cunningham, R-Sullivan, said that the newly elected Republicans may vote against a repeal of the same-sex marriage law due to their different ideologies regarding civil liberties and constitutional issues.

“It is a possibility it will pass, but I’m not convinced that such an effort will be as popular amongst Republicans as some of the other conservative issues facing the Republican Party,” Cunningham said. “I believe this year included a very large number of constitutional-oriented and libertarian individuals who chose to run under the Republican banner, embracing 80 percent of the Republican platform, but differ in areas of individual rights and issues enumerated in the constitution.”

Some Republicans told their peers in the state House that they would not be comfortable voting for a repeal after they had already granted same-sex couples marriage equality, according to Nordgren.

State Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, who originally voted against the legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in New Hampshire, said she has since seen no problem with the legislation and plans to vote against the repeal if it reaches the Senate.

All in all, I think that it is unlikely that marriage equality will be reversed in New Hampshire. But it is too soon to be certain.

Ryan

January 15th, 2011

Republicans would only need 264 House votes out of 297 to override the Governor’s veto. I’m sure some Republicans wouldn’t vote for repeal. But 33 of them? I think repeal is far more likely than not. And what about the next time there’s a Republican governor? It’s all she wrote. All the more reason why marriage equality should be rigorously pursued through the courts.

Timothy Kincaid

January 15th, 2011

Ryan,

Last year 40 Republicans voted against appeal.

It can be tempting to think of Republicans in stereotypical terms (as NOM does), but NH Repubs are not like Alabama Repubs.

Ryan

January 16th, 2011

But which 40? How many are still currently in office, or were they removed for being RINOs? I can’t find that info.

L. Junius Brutus

January 16th, 2011

One of them is the current Majority Leader, though he did vote for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

The more important problem is: Lynch can’t stay in office forever. If his successor is an anti-marriage Republican, repeal will be easy.

Richard W. Fitch

January 16th, 2011

All the more reason to fight that DOMA be abolished pronto. Once that happens all the state bans will fall to the embers.

Theo

January 16th, 2011

I agree that repeal is more likely than not, but not “far more likely” as Ryan says. The 2010 repeal vote is the best marker, and that vote indicates that it is plausible that we could get the required number of GOP votes. But it is also true that there has been no published analysis of whether those votes are there today.

If anyone wants to try to quantify the level of support, here is the roll call for the Feb. 2010 repeal vote:

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_Status/Roll_calls/billstatus_rcdetails.aspx?vs=82&sy=2010&lb=H&eb=HB1590&sortoption=&txtsessionyear=2010&txttitle=Marriage&ddlsponsors=&lsr=2069

It is worth noting that 60 representatives, from both parties, did not vote.

Two factors weighing in our favor, and one against: In our favor, if the vote is put off until 2012, that will mean 2 years will have passed since the law went into effect. The longer it stays in effect, the harder it will be to repeal. Second factor in our favor is that the fight will be to sustain Lynch’s veto. So the Dems are more likely to stay united. In 2010, 4 Dems voted for repeal and probably other cross-overs were among the 60 non-voters.

One factor against us: The repeal supporters are not seeking to dissolve existing SSMs; it would only apply prospectively. Also, if they are not confident of passage, they are likely to try to package the repeal with an offer some second class DP rights, something less than civil unions. This will be billed as a “moderate” position, i.e., more compassionate than a bare repeal but less radical than allowing SSM to continue. For some reason, I find this to be more infuriating than a simple repeal.

Stefan

January 16th, 2011

There are still 26 Republicans who voted against repeal in office now, and I bet there are MANY more new ones among the 120+ new ones. Also, the actual number required to override a veto is 266, not 264.

As far as a Republican governor coming in next term, 2015 is a long ways away (4 years is lightyears in the gay marriage movement), and the Democrats are likely to gain more seats by then and it may not even achieve a majority in the NH House.

Mark

January 16th, 2011

Alas, Lynch’s term comes up in 2012 (NH has 2-year terms).

Ryan

January 17th, 2011

Right, Lynch is done in two years. If he loses to a Republican, repeal is certain, barring another huge shift in the House makeup again. It will only take a majority for repeal to happen, then. Sure, NH Republicans are different from AL Republicans. But they’re still Republicans.

L. Junius Brutus

January 17th, 2011

Or if he retires. Considering that he withstood a wave in 2010, I think that it’s unlikely that he will be defeated by a Republican, unless he is dragged down by Obama.

Stefan

January 17th, 2011

Has Lynch said that he won’t run in 2012? Either way 2012 will be better for Democrats since it’s a presidential election year.

And yes, every year it can be put off the better. 2012 will be better then 2011 and 2013 will be better then 2012. It may not even achieve majority support in 2013 since the Democrats are likely to gain back several seats in the legislature.

Timothy Kincaid

January 17th, 2011

Ryan

But which 40? How many are still currently in office, or were they removed for being RINOs? I can’t find that info.

Some are, some didn’t run again. You can find the votes at the NH legislature site and compare it to the list of elected officials at the NH sec of state site. I did this in November and it was my impression that while some didn’t seek reelection, no one lost their seat.

Timothy Kincaid

January 17th, 2011

Some Republicans may have noticed that only one election strongly emphasized the marriage vote. NOM dumped piles of cash into NH to harp on that issue and defeat Lynch.

I think few of them consider their majority to be some sort of mandate for overturning marriage and perhaps a few recognize that the voters actually said quite the opposite.

Theo

January 17th, 2011

I read that the wild swings in the NH legislature have been the result of a court-imposed districting plan. The NH Supreme Court struck down the prior districting method and imposed its own. The legislature developed a new redistricting method, which was approved by the voters in 2006. During the interim period of 2006-2010, the court-imposed plan was in effect and it was this plan that created the potential for big swings.

Unfortunately, as far as I understand, the new districting method that was adopted in 2006 goes into effect in 2012. So there will be no more swings comparable to the one 2010. The Dems couldn’t have picked a worse time to suffer a huge defeat.

The NH House and Senate likely are artificially lopsided toward the GOP and there should be some settling back, but the chances of the Dems retaking either house would appear to be slim.

If there are any NH experts who could shed some more light on this, I would appreciate it.

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