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Religious Tolerance logo

Same sex marriage (SSM) in New Hampshire

2012-MAR: Bill to repeal same-sex marriages
defeated in New Hampshire House. Reactions.

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This topic continues from a previous essay

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2012-MAR-21: The Republican-dominated House debated the SSM repeal bill:

A lot of political commentators were watching the debate and vote of House Bill 437 -- a bill that would have prohibited same-sex marriages in the state effective in 2013-MAR, and allowed loving, committed same-sex couples access only to civil unions. The bill's main sponsor, Rep. David Bates (R) said that the it would replace the current "illegitimate definition" of marriage with one that restricted it to between one woman and one man. Under the bill, existing same-sex marriages would have been still recognized; they would not be forcibly divorced.

The general consensus was that the bill would pass easily. Governor John Lynch (D) promised to veto the bill. The question of the hour was by how much the bill would pass. A two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate would be needed later to override the veto. The stakes were high, because If the bill had become law, New Hampshire would have been the first state to repeal a same-sex marriage law.

The National Organization for Marriage had promised to split $250,000 among representatives who support the bill.

The New Hampshire Republicans of Freedom and Equality PAC was raising money to fund Republicans who vote to reject it.

During the debate, which lasted two hours, Rep. Dan McGuire (R) said:

"I don't believe the community or the people have changed their culture to the extent we should change the definition of marriage to be other than the legal union of marriage between man and wife." 1

Jennifer Coffey (R) who opposed the bill, said:

"This body has set in motion a ping-pong ball on people's lives." 2

State Representative Warren Groen, (R) argued that by permitting same-sex couples to marry opened up the definition of marriage to polygamists and others with non-traditional lifestyles. He is, of course, in error, because the law that legalized SSM specifies that only two persons can marry. He said:

"We are indeed on a slippery slope." 3

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The vote on HB 437:

An amendment to the original bill had been proposed by Rep. David Bates (R). It would have held a non-binding referendum on election day in 2012-NOV, and also terminated all future SSMs effective 2013-MAR. The amendment went down to defeat by a vote of 188 against and 162 for. 4

Rep. Seth Cohn (R) proposed a second amendment that would have prohibited marriage between left-handed people. This was a humorous amendment that reflected the beliefs of many researchers that both left-handedness and sexual orientation are determined before birth. Presumably the rationale was that if the state can discriminate against persons of different sexual orientations then they should be able to discriminate also against lefties, since many researchers consider both factors to be unchangeable, present in a minority of the population, and beyond the control of the individual. This proposal triggered a fierce parliamentary debate. It did not proceed to a vote. Pity

During the debate, some representatives who oppose SSM likened it to incest. Some reps who support SSM drew similarities between modern-day discrimination against same-sex couples and past forms of discrimination based on race.

When the bill itself was voted upon, unexpectedly, representatives voted 211 against and 116 for the bill! 1 Opposition was 65%; almost a 2 to 1 ratio! Allegedly the Republican representatives voted 116 for the bill to end SSM and 100 against, while Democrats voted against the bill.

State Representative David Welch (R) had opposed SSM. But he voted against the bill because, as he said:

"The Legislature has given certain rights to members of our community and now we're being asked to take them away."

Rep. Michael Ball (R) said, referring to the LGBT community:

"These folks are just people just like you are, they want the same things you do. This bill needs to be put down. Put this dog down like it deserves to be." 5

Rep. Warren Groen (R) said:

"Who is next in line? The animal lovers can’t be too far behind. Once you open the word to redefinition, it’s open to redefinition. We are indeed on a slippery slope, and we are indeed at the edge of the cliff." 5

Groen does not seem to be aware that marriage has been redefined twice before in the U.S.: one at the end of the civil war when African Americans were allowed to marry anywhere in the U.S. and once in 1967 when inter-racial couples were allowed to marry. The nation seems to have adapted to these prior redefinitions and few people today would argue that either be reversed.

Within two hours of the posting of the Huffington Post article, it had received 702 comments and 1,155 "likes." 3

The many hundreds of comments on the Huffington Post article are well worth reading, for amusement if nothing else.

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Reactions by pro-marriage equality groups:

Craig Stowell, co-chairman of Standing up For New Hampshire Families, said:

"Today is a banner day for the freedom to marry. ... [The Republicans] blew it. This was supposed to be the most favorable legislative climate for repeal and they couldn't even get a majority." 3

The group also mentioned that supporters of marriage equality in New Hampshire sent over 10,000 messages to state legislators urging them to retain access to marriage for all couples. Stowell, a former Marine and veteran of the Iraq war, has a gay brother and had organized an Internet petition on the web site in favor of retaining SSMs. Over 126,000 individuals had signed the petition before the vote.

Marc Solomon, campaign director at Freedom to Marry, referred to the state motto when he said:

"Live Free or Die is alive and well in New Hampshire. Today’s vote affirms that Granite Staters stand strongly against stripping away freedoms from any of their neighbors.

Our opponents tried to abuse the 2010 Republican legislative sweep in New Hampshire to repeal the popular law. What they didn’t count on was the fact that the freedom to marry is becoming a bipartisan value, as resoundingly reflected in today’s vote.

We are grateful to Governor John Lynch for his principled defense of the freedom to marry law, and to the many lawmakers—both Republican and Democrat—who listened carefully to their constituents and recognized that New Hampshire is stronger when all committed couples can share in the freedom to marry.

Freedom to Marry is proud to be part of Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, a bipartisan group of citizens, business owners, people of faith, and civic leaders for mounting an exceptionally effective campaign to highlight the voices of Granite Staters from every walk of life who opposed repealing the popular marriage law. We especially thank Standing Up co-chairs Lew Feldstein and Craig Stowell for their stalwart leadership. ..." 6

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This topic continues in the next essay

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Full disclosure concerning author bias:

The author of this essay, alone among his family of origin, is left-handed, has been all his life, and expects to die a leftie. He is also hopelessly heterosexual.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "New Hampshire House kills gay marriage repeal bill," Associated Press, 1012-MAR-21, at:
  2. Ross Krasny, "New Hampshire gay marriage repeal fails," Reuters (US), 2012-MAR-21, at:
  3. Norma Love, "New Hampshire House rejets gay marriage repeal bill," Huffington Post, 2012-MAR-21, at:
  4. "New Hampshire House kills marriage equality repeal bill," Think Progress, 2012-MAR-21, at:
  5. James Johnson, "New Hampshire Lawmakers Vote To Uphold Gay Marriage Law," The Inquisitr, 2012-MAR-23, at:
  6. Laurel Ramseyer, "New Hampshire marriage equality repeal bill fails," Pam's House Blend, 2012-MAR-21, at:

Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2012-MAR-21
Latest update: 2012-APR-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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