NOM wages war on New Hampshire Republican leadership
January 22nd, 2011
The newly elected Republican supermajority in New Hampshire is interested in the economy and jobs and taxes. And House Republican Leader D.J. Bettencourt has stated that warring over marriage is not one of the party’s immediate priorities.
Well, to National Organization for Marriage, this makes Bettencourt an enemy to be destroyed. So they fired up their attack machine. (Boston.com)
Bettencourt said the National Organization for Marriage sent a direct mailer to his district in Salem saying he doesn’t support traditional family values. He said the mailer was the result of his announcement last week that the House Republican agenda did not include repealing gay marriage.
But it may have backfired. Rather than resulting in marches on his office by outraged citizens waving pitchforks and demanding a witch trial over Teh Gheys getting married, this act or aggression simply pissed off Bettencourt (and probably quite a few other Republicans, as well). So he used it against them.
In a letter to his fellow legislators, he said that NOM’s move proves that marriage is “controversial” and would be a distraction, so it should be put off for another year.
“This assault on our agenda has the potential to take important focus and energy away from our focus on the budget,” Bettencourt wrote O’Brien. “Therefore, it is my belief that the same sex marriage repeal must be retained in the Judiciary Committee this year so that our full and undivided attention is focused on New Hampshire’s outstanding financial issues.”
Some newly elected NH Republicans may vote against marriage repeal
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.
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.
Marriage repeal not on New Hampshire GOP agenda
January 12th, 2011
The AP is reporting
The House Republican’s legislative agenda will not include repealing gay marriage.
House Republican Leader D.J. Bettencourt confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that jobs and the economy will be the top priorities that Republicans will use as their scorecard to measure themselves by for the next two years.
Bettencourt said social issues will take a back seat. He said one abortion initiative will be on the agenda but he declined to say what it is.
Perhaps at 27, Bettencourt represents a younger generation Republican Party.
Couple recognition, state by state
December 1st, 2010
Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:
Marriage on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:
District of Columbia
Civil Unions – a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:
Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population
Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population
Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships
In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.
Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.
Marriage update – around the states
November 29th, 2010
The 2010 election has changed the dynamic in a few states and presents both opportunities and challenges for supporters of marriage equality. Here are how I see the current landscape:
Hawaii – Neil Abercrombie, the newly elected governor of Hawaii, is a strong advocate for civil unions. Earlier this year the legislature overwhelmingly approved a civil unions bill and such a bill is likely to be presented again.
Illinois – it is expected that the state legislature will vote this week on a civil unions bill during a lame-duck session. There is adequate support in the Senate, but the House vote is uncertain. Should it pass, Governor Pat Quinn, a strong supporter who was just reelected, will sign the bill. This bill seems to be taking on the impression of a Catholic v. Protestant fight, with NOM and the Catholic Bishop serving as the public face in opposition to civil unions, while a great many Protestants ministers have endorsed the bill.
Minnesota – Mark Dayton holds a lead in the governor’s election over anti-gay Tom Emmer, but the election will not be determined until a recount is completed. Republicans took control of both houses of legislature, so no pro-equality bills are expected; but if Dayton is confirmed there also will be no anti-equality bills either.
The one concern might be that Republicans could try and put a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot that bans both marriage and civil unions. While that may seem like a great idea to anti-gay activists, Emmer ran a homophobic campaign designed to appeal to those who oppose marriage equality and it does not appear to have been successful. I think it likely that an anti-marriage amendment would pass, but anti-civil unions may be too much, and it is becoming increasingly more risky for anti-gays to make such assumptions. Additionally, attitudes can change dramatically in the next two years.
Meanwhile, three couples are suing the state claiming that laws restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate the state constitution. Today, a judge rejected the request of the Minnesota Family Counsel to intervene:
“The Council’s alleged injuries would occur solely due to its sincerely-held belief that principles rooted in its interpretations of religious texts are best for the well-being of children and families, and that marriage only between one man and one woman accords with these principles,” wrote Minnesota Fourth District Court Judge Mary S. DuFrense (PDF). “The Court certainly understands that the Council feels strongly about the social issue of same-sex marriage. Strong feelings, however, do not establish a legal interest in a lawsuit.”
Iowa – after three Supreme Court Justices were denied confirmation, anti-gay activists were celebrating. But as the Senate majority leader has committed to blocking any changes to the Iowa constitution, it is unlikely that marriage will be reversed.
New Hampshire – NOM is crowing that anti-marriage activists have taken over both houses. However, my analysis suggests that any reversal of marriage equality is unlikely. While Republicans took a veto-proof majority, a significant number have already voted against any repeal of the law.
Maine – Republican Paul LePage was elected governor, effectively eliminating any forward movement on marriage equality. However LePage supports the current domestic partnership laws so things will remain status quo for a while.
New York – this one is a big question mark. Incoming Governor Cuomo has promised to get marriage legalized. And after the last vote, state legislators have discovered that “things as they are” may well be the most dangerous position to hold; gay activists refused to play the “any Democrat is better than a Republican” game and set their sites on defeating anti-marriage votes.
Going by last year’s vote count, the current best case scenario is that we are three votes shy of what we need (there are still some undecided elections). However, this time our side is taking to the airwaves to drum up public support, and polls show that New Yorkers support marriage equality. What was a party-line vote last year may well be viewed this year in terms of tolerance and New York values and there may be an entirely different dynamic.
Rhode Island – Former-Republican Lincoln Chafee, who ran as an Independent, beat both the Democrat and the Republican candidates to take governor of the tiny state. And one of his first actions was to inform NOM that their opinion on marriage was not of any value to him. Rhode Islanders support marriage equality, and with Chafee’s backing there is a good chance that RI will be the next marriage state.
Maryland – another contender for next marriage state, Maryland did not suffer party reversal. A plurality of voter support marriage equality, and gay State Sen. Richard Madaleno is guardedly optimistic that marriage will be voted in, perhaps as early as January.
His optimism stems from a number of developments on Election Day 2010, some of which ran absolutely counter to national trends. In the Maryland Senate, Democrats actually expanded their majority to a 35-12 advantage over Republicans. And some Democrats who lost their seats did so in primary fights with more progressive challengers, many of whom vowed to be even stronger champions for marriage equality.
And, of course, all of the above could be impacted by Perry v. Schwarzenegger should the courts find that marriage laws which restrict gay people from participation are contrary to the Due Process or Equal Protections clauses of the 14th Amendement.
Not a good night for NOM
November 2nd, 2010
The Republicans picked up significant gains in the midterm election, gaining control of the House of Representatives, and bringing the Senate to within a few votes. This is not good news for the prospect of having issues of inequality addressed in the next two years.
However, this change in the direction of power was not a mandate for social conservatives. Indeed, it was those Republicans who made the most of their socially conservative credentials who fared least well. Christine O’Donnell lost miserably, as did Tom Tancredo, while Tea Party and Republican candidates that minimized or refused to discuss their positions on social issues attracted support.
But no indicator seems to have been more consistent this election than the extent to which a candidate was supported by the National Organization for Marriage. If you were a Senatorial or Gubernatorial candidate whom NOM supported, it seemed to be the kiss of death.
In New Hampshire, NOM has ran an anti-Lynch campaign for two years, and has ratcheted up the anti-Lynch television ads going into the election. Lynch just won his fourth consecutive election, a feat not accomplished for the past 200 years.
In California, NOM sponsored a bus tour for senate candidate Carly Fiorina, encouraging Latino voters to “vota tus valores“. Not only have the networks called this election for Barbara Boxer, Latinos found Fiorina’s valores not to be their valores by two-thirds.
NOM sued the state of New York in hopes of running anonymous ads in favor of Carl Paladino. Paladino’s homophobia sunk his campaign and he ended up pulling but 35% of the vote leaving Cuomo – a marriage support – one of the strongest winners of the night.
In Minnesota, NOM ran radio ads for Tom Emmer claiming that “Mark Dayton and Tom Horner want to impose gay marriage with no vote of the people.” Although Minnesota has not been called, Dayton is 7% ahead of Emmer with 85% of the vote counted.
This kiss of death is consistent with results of NOM’s electioneering in the District of Columbia during their primary. It would seem that using gay couples as a fear tactic seems to have peaked and dissipated.
This is not to say that NOM will not have any causes for celebration. The efforts to reject three supreme court justices in Iowa who were part of the unanimous decision to recognize gay Iowans as protected by the state Constitution, appears to have succeeded. Each appears to have only 46-47% support. Expect NOM to claim this as a clear mandate that the “people of Iowa have spoken” and that they don’t like their gay neighbors so much. NOM was not, however, successful in their effort to oust the Polk County judge who first found for marriage equality.
And NOM’s very own Andy Pugno – the attorney for the Prop 8 campaign – is running for state assembly in California’s 5th Assembly district. At present the vote is too close to call.
All in all, while NOM’s vindictive smearing of the Iowa justices may have proven effective (and may well prove to bring a chilling effect to future legal battles), we can say that they were big losers tonight.
UPDATE: 10:28 pm PST. LA Times:
With more than half the votes counted, Democrat Richard Pan holds a 51% to 45% lead over Republican Andy Pugno in a seat currently held by Republicans.
Not only may Pugno’s repugnant attack on gay couples have cost him the 5th Assembly seat, it may actually move the Democrats in CA closer to a supermajority. NOM must feel so proud.
Heterosexual Menace: Church-Sanctioned Rape, Humiliation and Exile
June 1st, 2010
In 1997, a teenage girl was raped and impregnated by a fellow churchgoer at Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, New Hampshire. When she complained to her pastor, Chuck Phelps, he reported the rape to state youth officials, but police were never able to find the victim. That’s because was shipped of to another church member’s home in Colorado, where she was home-schooled and not allowed to have contact with others her age. And all the while, she was told it was her fault she was raped:
The victim said Phelps told her she would be put up for “church discipline,” where parishioners go before the congregation to apologize for their sins. She asked why. “Pastor Phelps then said that (Willis) may have been 99 percent responsible, but I needed to confess my 1 percent guilt in the situation,” the victim told the police.
“He told me that I should be happy that I didn’t live in Old Testament times because I would have been stoned.”
Fran Earle, the church’s former clerk, witnessed the punishment session. At a night meeting of the church’s fellowship in 1997, Phelps invited Willis to the front of the room. Willis apologized to the group for not being faithful to his wife, Earle said.
“I can remember saying to my husband, I don’t understand it’s any of our business why this is being brought up,” Earle said. Phelps then told parishioners a second matter was at hand; he invited the victim to apologize for getting pregnant.
“I can still see the little girl standing up there with this smile on her face trying to get through this,” Earle said.
New Hampshire results silence NOM’s Maggie Gallagher
March 20th, 2010
On March 10th, National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher was euphoric. She was joyously reporting that the residents of New Hampshire had voted to reject same-sex marriage (National Review Online)
Of the vote results reported by the Union-Leader, along with a couple from the Concord Monitor, seventeen towns approved and three rejected the article.
Voting for a marriage amendment were: Charlestown (620-305), Kingston (719-346), Milton (385-285), Littleton (912-627), Wakefield (504-242), Dunbarton (77-58), Kingston (719-346), Windham (1,428-832), Epsom (422-225), Bedford (2,783-1,040), Hampstead (1,190-499), Allenstown (383-198), Auburn, Swanzey (542-422), Stark (unanimously), Pittsburg (64-4), and Belmont.
Rejecting were Newhampton, Salisbury (30-27), and Northumberland (57-104).
This is a partial list; still looking for full electoral info.
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! She chortled in her joy.
To understand what this means, we have to take a step back and look at how same-sex marriage came to New Hampshire and what these town votes mean.
New Hampshire is one of two states in which the legislature passed a bill which was signed by the governor which changed the family law code to allow same-sex couples to marry. This was not due to a lawsuit or other court action but was an act of the purest representative government.
To reverse this law, anti-gay activists have a few options.
They can vote for representatives who oppose marriage equality who could then repeal the law. But while it is possible for marriage rights to appear and disappear with the change (or whim) of the elected representatives, many legislators are hesitant to play so cavalierly with the lives of their constituents. Further, the representatives are aware that changing laws back and forth create complexities and legal confusion which would both make their jobs more difficult and open them up to criticism.
They can lobby for a change in the constitution, a one-time fix. However, New Hampshire does not have a initiative process and the constitution can only be changed in two ways.
The state has a provision by which a constitutional convention can be called. Every ten years (or by a majority of both houses) the people vote on whether to call a convention (the next vote is scheduled for 2012). Then delegates are elected and a convention convened. Amendments to the constitution require a 3/5 vote of the delegates and a 2/3 vote of the people. Anti-gay activists may encourage a “yes” vote on the next constitutional convention question.
The second method for changing the constitution for both houses, by a 3/5 vote, to place an amendment on the ballot. Such an amendment would require a 2/3 affirmative vote of the electorate. And it was towards the last method that the rhetoric of the anti-gay activists was directed. NOM (among others) sought to demonstrate that it was the will of the people that they be allowed to vote on the issue. And this was the focus of their language: marriage is too important to be decided by the legislature, it should have the input of the people.
NOM was hoping that folks who were moderate or even supportive of marriage would agree that a “people’s vote” was needed. And once it was on the ballot, they would dump tens of millions of dollars (from undisclosed sources) to fund a campaign of bald-faced lies and seek to enshrine the doctrines of some religious organizations into civil law.
To put pressure on the legislature and create an impression of public support, anti-gay activists used a political mechanism that is peculiar to New England states: the town meeting, a gathering of the residents to determine town business. They sought to have the towns demand of the state that the residents be allowed to vote on marriage equality.
There are (basically) two types of town meeting. A traditional type, which is a public gathering on the second Tuesday in March, works well for small communities. And, since 1995, the state has allowed a two-part meeting (called an SB2 Meeting) in which first a deliberate session is held, which creates wording, and then residents vote through polling places. These votes occur on the second Tuesday of March, April, or May. To get a matter up for consideration at a town meeting, concerned citizens can collect twenty-five signatures on a petition.
So anti-gay activists organized to have towns pass a non-binding resolution, an “opinion of the people”, if you will, to ask the legislature to “let us vote. And using the town meeting approach was actually a pretty smart move. Cities, such as Portsmouth or Dover, don’t have a non-binding resolution process, so any results would skew towards smaller towns or rural communities where conservative sentiment was more likely to thrive. Further, those fired up to “fight the homosexual agenda” were more likely to attend than residents who weren’t much interested either way.
The best scenario for anti-gay activists would be for each town to endorse the “let us vote” effort by 2/3 of the residents. This could allow NOM to spin the results as evidence that a constitutional amendment would pass and that residents demand their rights. But success would be a majority of voters – or a majority of towns – which would allow Maggie and Brian to claim that they speak for “the people”.
Even “a majority of those towns which voted”, while meaningless, would allow Maggie a press release (for NOM it’s all about perception and spin) and a “victory”. Any result which could be stretched to suggest that the legislators were out of touch with the residents of New Hampshire.
Thus the gloating comments she made at NRO.
But it seems that Maggie forgot to comment once the “full electoral info” was found. And she has good reason not to want to discuss the decisions of the New Hampshire towns.
28 towns supported the anti-gay effort
61 towns did not provide enough signatures
31 towns tabled the bill, refusing to even vote on it
33 towns voted “no” on the measure
1 town flipped the effort and voted to commend the state for supporting equality
31 towns supported the anti-gay effort
10 towns did not provide enough signatures
14 towns amended the language in the deliberative session, killing the petition
1 town flipped the effort but failed to vote to commend the state for supporting equality
There are 11 towns yet to decide. But of the 210 towns which could have supported the efforts of the anti-gay activists, only 59 chose to do so. Few of those were by a 2/3 vote.
Of course NOM and the other participants at LetNHVote are seeking to spin this as a victory. They simply don’t count the towns in which the motion was tabled or in which the deliberative sessions killed the effort, and claim that of the towns in which the residents did decide to vote, they won a majority.
But their claims ring a little hollow. It’s a bit like celebrating because the people inside the ice cream parlor voted that they like ice cream.
And for some reason, Maggie’s chortling has turned to silence.
Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples
March 3rd, 2010
About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.
Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.
There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).
But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.
In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.
New Hampshire Turns Back Marriage Equality Challenges
February 17th, 2010
The New Hampshire House resoundingly rejected two anti-gay measures. In a 210-109 vote, the House voted to reject a bill which would have repealed the state’s same-sex marriage law. That vote followed a 201-135 vote to reject a proposed constitutional amendment that would have redefined marriage in that state by restricting it to between one man and one woman. That vote fell far below the two-thirds majority needed to advance to the Senate.
NH Rep. Nancy Elliot gives sex-ed lessons
February 12th, 2010
On Tuesday, New Hampshire Representative Nancy Elliot decided that a discussion over repealing the state’s marriage equality law could be spiced up a bit by a little discussion about anal sex.
Rep. Nancy Elliot: We heard in this hearing one of the people came to testify and they said that this is not normal. And I had to think about it a while. Y’know, what are we talking about?
And so, I started thinking, and we’re talking about taking the penis of one man and putting it in the rectum of another man, and wiggling it around in excrement. And I had to think, I’m not sure, would I allow that to be done to me? All of us, if something happened to you, would you let that happen to you?
Is that normal? Is that something that we want to portray as the same as the ‘one flesh union’ between a man and a woman? I dunno.
Um, then, I started to think, I remember when we were having the testimony, people were saying that um, it was brought up that this would rise to the schools and I’m thinking, “No, no. No no, that won’t happen.”
Well I heard yesterday from a mother that in the fifth grade, in Nashua, they were giving um, they were given as part of their classroom instruction, naked pictures of two men showing presentation of anal sex.
Chairman David Cote: Representative Elliot, let’s keep our discussion directly to the bill and not…
Elliot: This is directly to the bill!
Cuz, because we have made a marriage on same sex, they are now teaching it in the public schools. They are showing our fifth graders how they can actually perform this kind of sex.
And they are condoning, they are saying, “It’s normal and this is something that you may want to try.” That is the context of the lesson, that this is something that you, as fifth graders, may want to try.
I see it as a real problem in our society. I see it as a real affront to our citizens that their children are suspected to this.
And so I think that it is important that we revisit what we did. We made a mistake. We should repeal it.
It certainly would be newsworthy if ten year-olds were being encouraged to try anal sex. But it now appears that the telephone call that Nancy Elliot was talking about receiving may have occurred at some point when she forgot to wear her tinfoil hat. (Nashua Telegraph)
Superintendent Mark Conrad said that school officials have asked all elementary school principals about the claim. Conrad said there is no evidence to substantiate Elliott’s comment and no parents have called to complain.
“We don’t have any information that this has occurred,” Conrad said Friday.
Congratulations to New Hampshire couples
January 2nd, 2010
As of the first moments of January 1, 2010, New Hampshire’s laws recognized marriage equality. Our most heart-felt congratulations to same-sex couples in that state for achieving civil equality (for state-based rights) and to all the citizens of that state for achieving a society that values its citizens more equally.
An Unequal Flag For Unequal Citizens
July 6th, 2009
This six star “Flag of Equal Marriage” represents the six states which have marriage equality, by order of their entry into the Union. The stars are arranged according to the order in which each state was admitted to the union, skipping over the states that do not have marriage equality. The six stars represent:
- Connecticut – #5.
- Massachusetts – #6.
- New Hampshire – #9 (Effective Jan 1, 2010)
- Vermont – #14 (Effective Sep 1, 2009)
- Maine – #23 (Effective of Sep 14, 2009)
- Iowa – #29
If this flag had been around in 2008, we would have seen California’ star (#31) go dark. There’s a move on right now to darken Maine’s star in November.
[Hat tip: David Schmader]
Today In Box Turtles
June 7th, 2009
Look in the lower right. Tom Toles’ editorial cartoon in today’s Washington Post warns of the dangers that Box Turtles pose to marriage:
And New Hampshire Makes Six
June 3rd, 2009
Today the New Hampshire Senate and House of Representatives passed the religious protections bill required by Governor Lynch to get his approval of the marriage equality bill. Lynch has promised to sign the marriage/religious protections combination package of three bills and New Hampshire will bring the total number of states granting same-sex marriages up to six.
Update: The AP reports:
New Hampshire’s governor has signed legislation making the state the sixth to allow gay marriage.
Gov. John Lynch was Surrounded by cheering supporters of the move as he signed the three bills about an hour after the key vote on the legislation in the House.
Marriage will begin in New Hampshire in January 1, 2010.
New Hampshire Marriage Back on Track
May 29th, 2009
The Boston Globe reports:
A little over a week after the House rejected language Gov. John Lynch had demanded, House and Senate negotiators agreed to a compromise Friday that added one sentence and changed one word in the Senate-passed bill. Negotiators planned to sign off on the final language by Monday, allowing for a vote by the full House and Senate on Wednesday.
Barring any additional unexpected hickups, marriage equality should be in place in New Hampshire by the end of next week.
Tracking New Hampshire’s Marriage Effort
May 28th, 2009
The marriage equality express in New Hampshire was unexpectedly sidetracked last week when some members of the House refused to accept the Governor’s language about religious protections, choosing instead to send the bill to a committee to craft language of their own.
The Nashua Telegraph has an update:
The Senate agreed Wednesday with the House to name a conference committee to craft a compromise on gay marriage.
Last week, the House narrowly turned down religious exemptions to the law that Gov. John Lynch had insisted upon.
House and Senate negotiators will meet and try to come up language acceptable to Lynch, as well as the House and Senate majorities by the time the Legislature meets in session next Wednesday.
Some Republicans in the Senate had sought to send the issue to a nonbinding referendum by the voters. However, New Hampshire’s Courts have found that the state’s Constitution does not allow for the use of such referenda to make legislative decisions. The Democrats in the Senate voted this proposal down.
Let’s hope the drive to make New Hampshire the sixth Marriage State will soon be back on track.
Positive Rumblings on New Hampshire Marriage
May 21st, 2009
I am beginning to think that when the New Hampshire House voted down the marriage bill revisions requested by the Governor that it was not a vote about marriage at all. I think that those Republicans – and perhaps some Democrats – that are supportive of marriage are indignant that Governor Lynch, a Democrat, gets to have it both ways.
The Boston Globe carried a few quotes today which I found interesting
Key Republicans who switched sides indicated Thursday they’re open to supporting a compromise.
“I think the votes are there to pass it and put it on Governor Lynch’s desk,” said Rep. Anthony DiFruscia, a Windham Republican who lead the fight for negotiations.
Amherst Republican Cynthia Dokmo, who also voted against passage, said she would like to see the bill tweaked.
“I would like to see this bill pass,” she said. “It just seems to me it really doesn’t hurt anyone and it helps some people. It’s not going to affect my marriage.”
Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a Manchester Republican who also switched, argued Lynch’s proposed language provides churches broader ability to discriminate than do laws in Connecticut and Vermont.
“I need something that does not send a signal to the rest of the country that New Hampshire has gone farther than any other state,” said Vaillancourt.
It may well be that they objected to what they saw as partisan support for protecting a Democratic Governor from risk while they shouldered threats from within their party. They too may be chaffing at being handed wording from the executive office and told to rubber stamp it.
But from the words of these “no” votes, it seems likely to me that wording can be achieved that meets Gov. Lynch’s requirements but also can be seen as originating in the legislature. I think that the delay is simply that – a brief delay in passage.
Trouble in New Hampshire – Amendments Voted Down
May 20th, 2009
Governor John Lynch stated that he would sign the marriage bill if it were revised to include specific protections for churches and religious groups. The New Hampshire Senate voted today 14-10 to accept the Governor’s changes. However, Reuters is reporting that the House rejected the changes.
The state’s Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted down the bill in a 188-186 vote, hours after its Senate approved the legislation 14-10 along party lines.
State Representative Steve Vaillancourt, a gay Republican from Manchester, was a leading voice against the amendment securing religious liberties, saying that the House should not be “bullied” by the governor.
Vaillancourt said an earlier bill that did not provide protections to clerics or religious groups was the one that should have been passed, adding that the amended bill would allow discrimination to be written into state law.
The earlier bill passed both chambers.
Other House Republicans said they voted against the current bill because the process did not fairly give a voice to every citizen who wanted to speak on the issue.
This is an entirely unexpected turn of events. The fate of marriage equality in New Hampshire is uncertain.
The House vote against the governor’s amendment means the bill will be sent to a committee that will try to resolve the differences between the two chambers. It remains unclear how the governor would respond to any changes to his wording.
The Wall Street Journal clarifies:
Opponents tried to kill the bill, but failed. The House then voted 207-168 to ask the Senate to negotiate a compromise.
NH Anti-Gays Admit that “Religious Protections” are Redundant
May 15th, 2009
Opponents of marriage equality only have a few arrows in their quiver. The strongest of these is “infringing on religious freedoms” and they have a handful of anecdotes that can be distorted to appear as though churches are going to lose their rights to speak or believe according to their faith.
Those who favor marriage equality consistently respond that we have no interest in infringing on their rights to religious self-determination nor are we trying to micro-manage their faith. And we point out that we couldn’t do so even if we wanted to; the First Amendment to the US Constitution protects the rights of religions.
However, in Connecticut and Vermont – and now proposed in New Hampshire – are reassurances, special provisions included to assure religions and those who practice them that their preachers and houses of worship will not be compelled to conduct ceremonies contrary to their faith. And those favoring marriage equality are not concerned because we know that these protections are already present in the Constitution.
But now that we offer these concessions, anti-gays are still not pleased. Because, as they’ve known all along, the objections which they raised were not truthful to begin with.
Consider the words of Kevin H. Smith, the executive director of anti-gay group Cornerstone Policy Research:
“The folks who [they are] claiming to be protecting in this bill are already protected in the First Amendment by the freedom of religion…”
Anti-gays have known all along that their claims that churches would lose their tax exempt status or preachers would be jailed was nothing but hot air. A convenient lie told to advance a political agenda, but one that they know full well is untrue.