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New Hampshire GOP Tries Different Tack On Marriage Repeal

Jim Burroway

March 19th, 2012

New Hampshire’s legislature is solidly in Republican hands with sufficient majorities to deliver veto-proof legislation to Democratic Gov. John Lynch. While many in the chamber want to repeal the marriage equality law which Gov. Lynch signed in 2009, it is believed that, so far, there have not been enough votes in the legislature to override an expected veto, leading repeal backers to try a different approach. Last week, Rep. David Bates, the sponsor of the repeal bill, proposed adding a new convoluted and confusing clause which would put before the voters in November this question:

Shall New Hampshire law allow civil unions for same-sex couples and define marriage as the union of one man and one woman?”

The question sets up a perfect trap: A yes vote bans same-sex marriage, but a no vote would … do what? It wouldn’t return same-sex marriage back into law, and may instead be used as justification for rescinding civil unions. Or it may do nothing no matter how New Hampshire residents vote, since the proposed referendum would be non-binding. But even as a non-binding referendum, it would still mean that LGBT people would still have to justify their families before New Hampshire voters.

A vote on the proposed bill is expected on Wednesday.



Timothy Kincaid
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

The title of this commentary does not reflect the content. There is no reason to think that the Republican Party in New Hampshire is behind either the language of the bill or it’s intent.

As easy as it may be to use the broad brush of declaring that Rep Bates is “The New Hampshire GOP”, it isn’t fair to either the NH GOP or to our readers.

March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Would a majority, even if not a veto-proof majority, fail to show that the NH GOP lives up to the official party platform?

We’ll see when the votes are in.

March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy, I guess we’ll know if the headline was accurate come Wednesday.

Timothy Kincaid
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Zeke, yes after Wednesday (or whenever they vote) we’ll know what the Republican majority’s position is. I would be a bit surprised if this wacky and impossible to understand language is passed, but it certainly is possible.

But as of today, this appears not to be the position of the state GOP leadership or anyone other than Bates. He’s likely not alone, but so far I’ve not seen any other GOP quotes in the press in support of this wording and several in opposition.

Donny D.
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

That’s one of the things I really like about Box Turtle Bulletin: you guys write well! In your telling, people take a different tack rather than a different tact, and religions have tenets rather than tenants.


March 19th, 2012 | LINK

There is no reason for anyone other than the spokesperson to speak up, if they have the vote locked in. I think there is no talking because they have the votes.

Jim Burroway
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

“Taking a different tack” is correct. It’s from a sailing term. To “tack” is to shift the lines tying a sail from a tack on one side the boat to a tack on the other side, causing the boat to change directions.

Keep that up, and I’ll start regaling you about my sailing trips in the Caribbean. :-)

March 20th, 2012 | LINK

My understanding is that the majority of people in New Hampshire support same-sex marriage. In that case, they should make known that any vote by the legislature to overturn the law will result in said legislator losing his/her job.

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