2012 Election | Barack Obama | Gay Marriage | Iowa | New Hampshire | North Carolina

Gay Marriage Begins Bearing Down On 2012 Race

NewhampshirecardFor all the social conservative energy bubbling ahead of today's Iowa caucuses, same-sex marriage has for the most part remained on the back burner during this presidential election cycle. That will soon change, though, as candidates flock to the Granite State for the New Hampshire primary next week.

A far more moderate state than Iowa, New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage in 2009 and ever since right-wingers and religious leaders have tried to overturn that law. In fact, a New Hampshire Bishop named Peter Libasci has just joined the backward battle.

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I do now add to this prayer: help us to rediscover and strengthen the bonds of marriage and family," he wrote in a recent blog post. "Human attempts to replace or redefine marriage do not respond adequately to the present situation of isolation, grief, and confusion."

Well aware of what's at stake, New Hampshire's Concord Monitor, the state's leading paper, today ran an editorial demystifying some of the conservative claims about gay marriage's so-called dangers. A snippet:

Over the past several years, we've heard a handful of regular arguments against gay marriage - at the State House, on the national stage, among the candidates vying for our votes in next week's presidential primary. Examined dispassionately, none of them should sway any votes in the weeks ahead. Consider:

• Marriage is between one man and one woman. This is more of a declaration than an actual argument. In fact, it's a declaration of bigotry. After all, who gets to define marriage? Those already married? Without a compelling reason to deny marriage to gay people, a statement like this is hard to take seriously.

• But marriage has been restricted to heterosexuals for thousands of years. Many traditions outlive their usefulness. Slavery was an ancient practice too, after all. So was barring women from participation in politics. Once upon a time, people with disabilities were routinely locked away in institutions. Mercifully, times change.

• Marriage is for procreation. In many cases, yes. But infertile, straight couples marry all the time. So do those uninterested in having kids. Those past their child-bearing years aren't forced to divorce. Having children isn't the only thing that brings couples together.

Their ultimate conclusion: "Don't tamper with same-sex marriage law," which happens to be the title of the editorial.

Read more, AFTER THE JUMP...

With so much attention on the issue, it is only a matter of time before voters -- 50 percent of whom support the same-sex marriage law -- start hammering Republican candidates on the controversial matter. But GOP White House hopefuls won't be the only ones feeling the heat: President Obama, who is allegedly "evolving" on marriage equality, will have to explain himself, as well, and not only in New Hampshire.

As The Charlotte Observer reports, North Carolina, host of the Democratic National Convention come September, will vote in May on whether or not to constitutionally ban same-sex marriages, which leaves gay Democratic delegates wondering where their party will go.

"There's the potential that we're going to be greeted to the state with another one of those heinous marriage amendments," said Jerame Davis, interim executive director for the National Stonewall Democrats. "That's definitely not putting out the welcome mat to LGBT people coming to the state."

And if the Supreme Court is asked to weigh in on DOMA, then all bets are off and the 2012 election will have a lot more LGBT flavor than many imagined.

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  1. Bishop Libasci, maybe--just maybe--Jesus, Mary and Joseph have a much bigger vision of marriage than your hate-motivated, hypocritical one.

    Posted by: Danny | Jan 3, 2012 10:25:24 AM

  2. When we talk about NH, we need to be clear about what the Republican lawmakers are trying to do there. This isn't about "gay marriage." (There is no such thing.) This is about right-wing legislators attempting to strip away a fundamental legal right from one class of NH citizens: gay people. In place of equality they would exclude the gay citizens of NH from civil marriage and demean the humanity of those citizens by reducing their unions and family commitments to a relationship between any 2 people. What they're attempting is both radical and unconstitutional.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jan 3, 2012 10:35:29 AM

  3. I agree with Ernie. I don't understand why this blog and others, the HRC, and most other gay groups continue to use the term 'gay marriage'. I believe it would help our case if we always referred to it as civil marriage equality. Yes, it is a longer phrase but it takes any religious angle out of the equation. And for the average [hetero] person, it is a lot harder to be against equality than for gay anything.

    Posted by: MikeBoston | Jan 3, 2012 10:50:17 AM

  4. Not certain it's accurate or fair to refer to New Hampshire as "much more moderate" than Iowa, considering Iowa actually achieved marriage equality a few months before New Hampshire.

    Primaries and caucuses highlight the loud and vocal conservative opponents of marriage, but the broader populations of both states have been reliably Democratic in their presidential votes for the past few decades and are generally supportive of GLBT rights.

    Posted by: Smartypants | Jan 3, 2012 11:28:38 AM

  5. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, legal marriage already does not discriminate on the basis of sex. So, banning same-sex marriage would be a radical redefinition of marriage.

    Posted by: DB | Jan 3, 2012 1:05:52 PM

  6. Good on the Monitor for saying it like it is: "Marriage is between one man and one woman" is a declaration of bigotry.

    If you think that an entire demographic group of people who pay taxes and contribute just as much to society as anyone else should be permanently barred from enjoying the same rights that you do just because they're different from you in to accommodate your "moral values," then you are a homophobic bigot.

    Posted by: AJD | Jan 3, 2012 1:28:35 PM

  7. I agree with SMARTYPANTS in that you labelling New Hampshire "far more moderate" is misleading. Not only do I have amo (thanks to you haha!) that in the past 6 elections New Hampshire voted 4 times for a Democrat whereas Iowa voted 5 times but also I have been to both and I have found New Hampshire people to be more prudish in their social beliefs and less open minded. They are also much more heavily Catholic state for what this worth...

    Posted by: Opinionated | Jan 3, 2012 2:18:03 PM

  8. Considering polling shows Iowa's residents approve of same sex marriage the least out of all who have legalized it... I'd say it's more progressive.

    Mind you New Hampshire legalized it through the legislature as compared through the courts in Iowa.

    Posted by: Rectifyer | Jan 3, 2012 2:45:41 PM

  9. "Not certain it's accurate or fair to refer to New Hampshire as 'much more moderate' than Iowa, considering Iowa actually achieved marriage equality a few months before New Hampshire."

    IA's marriage equality was achieved through the Court, as others have pointed out, while NH achieved it through the legislature, so the timeline isn't particularly comparable.

    In New England, NH certainly has the reputation for a conservative streak, one that runs side by side with a live and let live streak. Let's hope the latter wins out as Republicans attempt to radically destroy our legislatively earned civil rights there.

    And that's the key: when Democrats are in control, marriage equality is safe, when Republicans are in control, marriage equality is threatened. Republicans are in control in NH; equality is threatened. If Republicans were in control of the IA Senate, they'd be working to ignore the Constitution and get it on the ballot. Fortunately, Dem's still hold the edge, barely. (Yet some IA boys--see other post today--love Republicans, go figure.)

    Posted by: Ernie | Jan 3, 2012 4:32:10 PM

  10. Iowa's marriage decision was unanimous, the only pro-marriage one so far, that sounds pretty progressive to me.

    Posted by: Daniel R | Jan 3, 2012 5:30:19 PM

  11. As someone who lives in NH (reluctantly, i hate snow and miss real cities) and has through all of the marriage equality battle, there are a few things worth noting about this issue in this crazy state. First, NH politics are really fascinating, in large part due to the unique views of the citizens. NH is probably best descibed as leaning libertarian, where many are proud to be regisered as Independent. The fact that Ron Paul is not doing better in NH kind of shocks me. NH also has one of the biggest parlimentary bodies in the world. There is a state rep for every 3000 people. They get paid next to nothing (i believe it is just a couple hundred dollars) so many of them are either working for the person padding their pockets or solely for their own agenda with no intention of pursuing a serious political career. RIght now, there are a lot of crazy Tea Partiers in Concord who have put forth some seriously crazy bills (look up NH gun rights bills from last year and you'll probably want to stay away from here).

    Second, while NH can lean more conservative in some areas (taxes - don't try to run here if you want to institute a sales or income tax, gun rights) this is not true across the board and the Live Free or Die mentality is still strong in NH residents - it is these Tea Party politicians who are abandoning it. There was a poll that had 63% (I believe) support for the current law, 50% strongly support it. The important thing to note is that only about 25% of NH citizens think it should be repealed. Only 14% of those polled said they were less likely to support a candidate who oppose repealing marriage equality, while 44% are less likely to vote for those who want to repeal.

    Any candidate who comes to NH and runs with repealing marriage equality as his or her focus is paying attention only to the nutjobs in Concord and not to the people in NH, who like the rest of the country are concerned with jobs and the economy. While there is a large group of state legislators who are forcing this to become an issue once again, NH citizens generally have not gotten caught up in this and the vast majority are not going to view it as one of the cornerstone issues of the presidential primary. NH citizens are a political bunch and pay attention to what is going on - I wouldn't be surprised to see most of the people in Concord get ousted next time around.

    Posted by: TEC | Jan 4, 2012 10:19:42 AM

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