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Same sex marriage (SSM) in New Hampshire

2012-MAR: More reactions to the defeat of the
bill to repeal SSM. Influence on 2012 elections?

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This topic continues from a previous essay

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More reactions by pro-marriage equality groups:

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) issued a statement responding to the resounding defeat of the SSM repeal bill:

" 'Today’s victory affirmed the equality of New Hampshire’s gay and lesbian citizens,' said Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD. 'After the last election where Republicans gained control of both the House and the Senate, some thought that marriage equality was doomed. But many, many Republicans courageously stood up against repeal. We thank them and we congratulate Standing Up for New Hampshire Families and all the organizations and individuals who worked so hard to protect the freedom to marry.'

Marriage equality was signed into law in New Hampshire in 2009, and marriage began in the state on January 1, 2010. According to recent polls, over 60% of New Hampshire residents support marriage equality.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression." 1

The Human Rights Campaign also issued a statement:

"Today, in a surprise move, the Republican-led House of Representatives in New Hampshire flatly rejected a bill to repeal the state’s popular marriage law by a vote of 211-116. The bill called for ending same-sex marriage, which has been legal in the state for more than two years.

'Today’s big victory is a testament to the bipartisan groundswell throughout the state to keep the popular marriage law on the books,' said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. 'This victory was made possible by Republicans and conservatives standing up for freedom and family. Clearly, Granite Staters believe this is a settled issue, and it’s time to move on.'

Every independent poll has shown a supermajority of voters -- including Republicans and conservatives -- oppose overturning the Granite State’s popular marriage law.

'We thank Governor Lynch and supportive Republican and Democratic legislators for their tireless work on bringing marriage equality to the state and their continued leadership in the weeks ahead,' said Solmonese. 'And we could not be more proud of Claremont’s Craig Stowell, a conservative Republican and former Marine, who has been fighting to defend his gay brother’s freedom to get married.'

HRC has been engaged in winning and protecting marriage equality in New Hampshire for a number of years -– with particular attention to ensuring lawmakers hear from their constituents through a robust field operation.

In 2009, the New Hampshire legislature passed a law allowing committed, loving gay and lesbian couple to marry. The Governor signed the bill and since then more than 1,900 same-sex couples have married." 1

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Comments by observers in the visitors' gallery of the House:

Mike Bellrose and his partner Tom Czapieo, both in their early 60's, were in the gallery when the vote was taken. Czapieo said:

"I was born this way. I should have the right to marry who I want."

Bellrose noted that the session of the House began with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance which ends: "...with liberty and justice for all." He said:

"This [vote] certainly is a big step toward that."

Eleanor Vander Haegen, 71 who married her partner of 22 years in 2010-JAN said:

"It's such a significant recognition of our human rights." 2

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Reactions by anti-marriage equality groups:

  • National Organization for Marriage (NOM): Brian Brown, president of NOM made a vague threat after the vote that his organization: "... will hold legislators accountable for their votes today." He said in a statement titled: "NOM Disappointed in New Hampshire House Failure to Enact Compromise Legislation:"

"We are very disappointed in the failure of the New Hampshire House of Representatives to pass compromise legislation restoring marriage and providing for civil unions for same-sex couples. This was the law prior to marriage being hijacked by legislators who accepted hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions from gay marriage supporters without ever telling voters they intended to redefine marriage. We consider any vote cast against HB 437 to be a vote in favor of gay marriage, and we will act to hold every legislator accountable for such a vote.

"While we are disappointed in this vote today, we remain committed to giving the voters of New Hampshire the opportunity to restore the traditional definition of marriage. The only time gay marriage activists are able to win is when they can bypass the people and get activist judges or legislators to do their bidding, usually after plying them with large campaign contributions.

"This is a sad day for New Hampshire families who in 2010 had elected what they thought was a solid pro-marriage majority. They were once again let down by politicians who promised them one thing and then left them at the altar when the vote was on the line. These legislators will be held accountable." 3

  • One News Now, a service of the American Family Association, simply reprinted the Associated Press releases, with few changes. 2

  • The Family Research Council, which has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group 4 does not seem to have responded to the New Hampshire House vote on their web site. A search of their for a reference to New Hamphshire shows no article titles even remotely related to New Hampshire between the date of the vote and 2012-APR-20. We have asked the FRC for a confirmation that they have no article on this topic. (Confirmation #4614941). We received no response, as usual.

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Possible implications of the bill's defeat on the 2012-NOV election:

A vote to elect a new governor for New Hampshire will be held on election day in early 2012-NOV. There are four candidates for governor.

  • Ovide Lamontagne (R) said during a rally in 2012-FEB that if he were elected Governor and is presented with a bill that repeals same-sex marriage in the state, he would sign it into law.

After the House squashed the bill in March:

  • Former state Senator Jackie Cilley (D) voted for the original law that legalized SSM in the state in 2009. she reiterated her support for SSM, saying: "In my mind, it is a settled issue."

  • Former state Senator Maggie Hassan had also voted for the 2009 law. After the House vote, she issued a statement saying: "I strongly oppose any repeal of marriage equality."

  • Kevin Smith (R) said: "I support traditional marriage, and if the Legislature were to put a bill on my desk to support that definition, I would sign it. That being said, it is not my agenda as governor." He said that he wold hope that any future repeal bill would reestablish civil unions and continue the recognition of existing same-sex marriages.

State Representative David Bates (R), the sponsor of the 2012-MAR repeal bill said that the topic is not dead:

"If we have a governor in place more favorable to traditional marriage, that will change the dynamic considerably. ... Winning a majority vote is well within the realm of possibilities."

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Its main function is to prevent marriage equality throughout the U.S. NOM has promised to spend $250,000 to support candidates who support repealing marriage equality. This is about $1,300 per candidate. He said:

"Because of the vote, we now have a target list. Both Ovide Lamontagne and Kevin Smith support traditional marriage. We will be very involved in the general election."

Sean Owen, chairman of the New Hampshire Republicans of Freedom and Equality PAC, said that his group will be working to counter NOM's financial impact. He issued a statement saying:

"We are working to help lawmakers who stood up in support of freedom and equality and in support of all families."

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More developments expected

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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. Laurel Ramseyer, "New Hampshire marriage equality repeal bill fails," Pam's House Blend, 2012-MAR-21, at:
  2. "New Hampshire House kills gay marriage repeal bill," Associated Press, 2012-MAR-21, at:
  3. "NOM Disappointed in New Hampshire House Failure to Enact Compromise Legislation," National Organization for Marriage, 2012-MAR-21, at:
  4. From the Winter 2010 issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) Intelligence Report. The SPLC monitors racist, homophobic, nativist, and other hate groups in the U.S.
  5. Norma Love, "Gay marriage likely to play role in November election," Associated Press, 2012-MAR-23, 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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