NH Gop Drops Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment Efforts to Go Full Throttle on Marriage Equality Repeal

New Hampshire State Rep. David Bates said this week that he would drop efforts to pass a constitutional amendment there to ban same-sex marriage so that Republicans could go full throttle on repealing the state's marriage equality law, the AP reports:

Nh"The bill to change the meaning of marriage back to what it was in statute is well on its way," Bates said.

Bates said he did not want to risk having lawmakers choosing between two measures: the bill and a constitutional amendment. "It would complicate the decision for legislators if there was another alternative out there," he said.

The legislative process seems the appropriate way to decide the issue, he said. If a constitutional amendment is used, millions of dollars in out-of-state money would flow into New Hampshire on both sides of the issue, he said. "I don't think that's the way people want it decided," he said.

New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen spoke out against what's happening there in an interview this week with The Advocate:

“I’m very disappointed with the actions of the legislature — and I’m hopeful that they will not be successful,” Shaheen said. “These people represent the extreme right wing within this country. … I don’t think they represent the majority of the public.”

On marriage equality, Shaheen said she believed that DOMA repeal “provides an opportunity for states to address the issue," as the 1996 law "currently acts as a disincentive for states to act independently.”

Asked about her own personal position, Shaheen said, “I do think [marriage rights for gays and lesbians] should be the case in every state. But I also think it’s important for states to decide the issue.”

Republican party Vice Chairman J P Marzullo wrote a powerful editorial in yesterday's Concord Monitor talking about his gay son and asking the legislature to reconsider repeal of marriage equality:

I ask those who represent us in the Legislature to think about this when they are ready to vote for the bill repealing same-sex marriage. One out of every three teenage suicides is related to being gay and the discrimination that they face every day. They come from sound, strong and (in many cases) Christian families with the same values as your families. They are here legally, have jobs, pay taxes and, yes, even serve in our military and have made the ultimate sacrifice as soldiers by dying for freedom and liberty.

Today, Mo Baxley, the executive director of New Hampshire Freedom, a group that led efforts to enact the state's marriage equality law, resigned citing lack of funding and claiming the national group Freedom to Marry stopped funding NHF to fund a new group, Standing Up For New Hampshire Families. Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson calls Baxley's claims "a mischaracterization."

A New Hampshire House panel voted 11-6 to advance marriage equality repeal in late October. The full House is expected to vote on the bill early next year.


  1. Harry says

    The Conservatives worry about the “gays” destroying the institution of marriage but I think the str8s (Kardashians)are doing a great job of destroying the institution themselves. Can I have an amen?

  2. says

    Well, good that they’ve given up on the silly idea of wasting money to pass a constitutional amendment that wouldn’t pass, but it’s interesting when the anti-gay Rep. says: “The legislative process seems the appropriate way to decide the issue.” Um, MisterBates, the legislative process already decided the issue: in favor of marriage equality. But they only consider it “decided” when the deciding goes their way. Bigoted idiots.

  3. Mary says

    Harry and Ernie, you’ve both raised good points. But considering that until very recently in history almost all people who married were straight it’s natural that most of the damage done to the institution came from them. This really is not much of an argument for gay marriage, though, especially if people believe that gay marriage will, over time, encourage more straight people to experiment with homosexuality. The reasoning here is that if the institution is already fragile, why add more competition? But it’s true that the divorce rate should have been addressed by conservatives years ago. As should the illegitimacy isue. As we can see from the Gingrich and Palin families, conservatives themselves (and their families) were not immune from the effects of moral decline.

    And Ernie, you’re 100% correct. The right can’t decide whether the gay marriage issue should be decided by voters or legistlatures. Clearly they just want to win and don’t really care how that happens. But the left has a similar problem – it seems to realize that it’s better polically for legislatures to decide the issue, but it secretly hopes that the Supreme Court will decide the issue in their favor and help them circumvent a lengthy and messy political battle.

  4. says

    @Mary: the argument for marriage equality (not for “gay marriage”–that would be an unnecessary separate institution for gay couples) is quite simple: there is no rational reason to exclude gay couples from civil marriage. The so-called fragility of heterosexual marriages is not a reason; it’s fear-mongering, as you know. I doubt you buy the nonsense about experimenting with homosexuality, but, like the other arguments of the opponents, it contains no logic and isn’t worth addressing.

    And there is certainly no valid argument in NH for repealing equality and replacing it with an unconstitutional and inadequate CU replacement. It’s a ludicrous waste of time spearheaded by right-wing zealots. It will fail.

    Equality advocates are not “secretly” hoping that the Supreme Court will decide in our favor. We quite openly believe that DOMA is unconstitutional (parts of it have already been found so) and should be overturned by the Court, or through the legislative process. In both cases, we don’t need to have secrets (unlike the other side, who doesn’t want their names or testimony recorded in court cases, hmmmm) because we’re on the right side. The legislative and court strategies are compatible.

    One day in the not distant future, it will be settled federally, as it is in Canada, as it is in VT, MA etc. It’s the cry of the dinosaurs now.

  5. johnny says

    In 20 years or less, this will be a non-issue.

    By then, the federal branch of government will be so damn tired of having people trot their state’s gay-related cases to the supreme court (marriage, taxes, divorce, children, death benefits, health benefits, and on and on) that they’ll just solve it with an amendment which treats and honors gay relationships exactly as it does hetero relationships.

    And also by then all the idiots that are gripping their bibles in one hand and their constitutions in the other (or is that the same hand?) will have died off and we’ll all finally get to live in a country that actually does what it’s constitution says to do: all people are equal under the law. Sure, I’ll be 72 by then, but I want to be here to help celebrate!

    It’s just a matter of time.

  6. Bill from NH says

    What is not mentioned in the article about the resignation of Mo Baxley:

    The National Freedom to Marry group has hired Republican lobbyists Tyler Deaton and Scott Spradling and fired Mo Baxley.

    They are no longer giving any financial support to the NH Freedom to Marry group.

    Tyler Deaton has been active supporting Republican causes including Right to Work; he has also written a book defending Palin: Sarah Quaylin: Left-Wing Smear Attacks on Rogue Conservatives by Tyler Deaton and Jay McClure (Oct 21, 2009).

    Evan Wolfson, do you know what you are doing?

  7. I'm Layla Miller I Know Stuff says

    The letter of the law versus the spirit of the law

    The letter of the law versus the spirit of the law is an idiomatic antithesis. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the “letter”) of the law, but not the intent of those who wrote the law. Conversely, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not adhering to the literal wording.

    “Law” originally referred to legislative statute, but in the idiom may refer to any kind of rule. Intentionally following the letter of the law but not the spirit may be accomplished through exploiting technicalities, loopholes, and ambiguous language. Following the letter of the law but not the spirit is also a tactic used by oppressive governments.

  8. I'm Layla Miller I Know Stuff says

    “It’s just a matter of time.”

    But Johnny You’ll Just Let Life Pass You By. This Is No Way To Live. We Have Our Predecessors Proving that.

  9. Chris says

    So they voted these republicans in to have ‘smaller’ government, but what you got is the largest government intrusion in to people’s personal lives in 30 years.

    Americans are stupid to vote for these assholes who will go down in history like all the ones voting for the denial of equality in this nation. Be is woman’s rights, desegregation, ect.

    The rest of the world is decades ahead of us – using us as an example on how to treat their citizens. I can not believe this is America. It’s mind boggling and terribly embarrassing.

  10. Robert in NYC says

    Leaving it for the state legislatures to decide means that we will NEVER have marriage equality in all 50 states for decades to come. Leaving it to the SCOTUS with 5 staunch catholic conservatives on the bench will guarantee DOMA will never be overturned. It has already overturned precedent in the Citizens United case, so I don’t see it ruling in favor of DOMA repeal.

  11. John says

    There are many, many men and women who are married to the opposite sex…. even though, they are gay and on the down low. Most of these marriages eventually fall apart, because both spouses are unhappy. Wouldn’t it be better if same-sex marriage was legal, and not stigmatized… a lot more people would get it right the first time, instead of going through the agony of divorce. It’s a better solution for the gays, and also for the often clueless straight spouses.

  12. jamal49 says

    @MARY: Dear, let’s review your statement:

    “This really is not much of an argument for gay marriage, though, especially if people believe that gay marriage will, over time, encourage more straight people to experiment with homosexuality…..”.

    I am not arguing, neither does any other gay or lesbian argue, for “gay” marriage. I am arguing for marriage–CIVIL marriage. Not religious but CIVIL. Which, dear Mary, means that this is an issue of civil rights wherein I, as a natural-born, tax-paying citizen, should not be denied my inherent right to a CIVIL marriage because of others’ personal prejudices, religious bigotry or anywhere in between these two categories.

    Now, Mary, what makes you think that once gay and lesbian people are granted their full citizenship rights, there will be a stampede of people (you imply men, mostly) who want to “experiment” sexually with others of their same sex?

    What makes you think that this is a valid reason to deny me or any other gay or lesbian American his or her full civil equality?

    Do you, Mary, really think that the “institution” of marriage will somehow be harmed by sexual experimentation? Are you afraid that those who experiment will like it so much that they will stay on the same-sex side of the fence and, gasp!, decide to marry someone of the same sex?

    One wishes to be kind, Mary. But, please. Before you come here to comment, make sure that you think before you type.

    Any suggestion that I or any other gay man or lesbian woman is a threat to marriage or its place in society is downright absurd!

    You’re right. Gays and lesbians have not had a chance to get married and see how they travel down the road of connubial bliss. Maybe gays and lesbians will end up, per capita, in the same statistical place as straights regarding divorce.

    But, the better point is that there is no such thing as the “sanctity of marriage”. That is a mythical construct based religious mania and social prejudice.

    Marriage is and always has been a civil contract between two consenting adults. Traditionally, it has only encompassed straight people. Now, gays and lesbians slowly are being included.

    Such it is with civil equality. Marriage between two consenting adults of opposite or same-sex cannot and should not be denied because of socio-religious bias.

    And, Mary, if you know of any, um, “straight” men who want to experiment, let me know. I give free training lessons and all are welcome.

  13. Mary says

    Jamal49, I want to thank you for responding to me with courtesy and not hostility. Being equated with Hitler does get tiresome.

    My fears of gay marriage are not that a “stampede” of straight people would begin to experiment, but that slowly, over time, LARGER numbers of them would (how many we couldn’t be sure). If the rush to experiment had any chance of becoming a stampede, gay marriage would never be allowed anywhere. It is only because social change like this takes a long time to happen, and ist consequences felt, that gay marriage is now being debated. Unfortunately, most people don’t think very far down the road. And we have an unspoken rule in American life (created and sustained by straight people, of course) that you are not allowed to think about what might happen very far into the future unless your concerns involve freedom or the First Amendment. Say that you’re concerned about the survival of the family or about how this will affect children and it’s assumed you’re just evil or bigoted.

    It is not that a particular gay person is a threat to society, or even that LGBT people collectively are a threat. It’s that our society’s increasingly casual attitude toward sexual orientation poses a long-term threat to the heterosexual family over time. I am specifically worried about younger people, especially younger men, who will grow up in a world where homosexuality is considered acceptable. Larger numbers of men may end up with men instead of women. Gay sex can provide men with sexual gratification without worry about a resulting pregnancy – a big advantage. In addition, fewer men are interested in commitment (straight OR gay men) and this would satisfy the desire for sex without the expectation that a commited relationship would need to develop. More men choosing men leaves fewer men for women to have, which in turn, would make it more likely that these women would turn to each other for sex and commitment.

    I don’t believe we can assume that there are only a fixed number of people who are LGBT. Sexuality is fluid. And finding a life partner involves more than wanting someone who will satisfy you sexually. “Straight” people may be increasingly willing to consider the possibility of entering into a same-sex marriage based on other factors which really SHOULD be equally important to them – commitment, compatibility with a spouse, finding a person who wants to co-parent.

    Incidentally, my concerns have nothing to do with religion or the Bible. They are totally secular. I understand that we can’t base American public policy on the Bible for a variety of reasons.

    I will write more on this topic in the future as other issues come up, but again, thanks for being civil. If its any consolation, I’ve become far more accepting of gay people since reading Towleroad. I now support the right of gay couples to adopt children, something I never dreamed I could support as recently as two years ago!

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