White House Responds to Question on NH Marriage Equality Repeal, Opposes ‘Divisive and Discriminatory’ Efforts

The White House has responded to a question from Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson asked earlier this week at a press briefing about how Obama feels about efforts to repeal New Hampshire's marriage equality law:

Nh“While the president does not weigh in on every single action taken by legislative bodies in our country, the record is clear that the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples,” said White House spokesperson Shin Inouye. “The president believes strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.”

The statement doesn’t explicitly express support for same-sex marriage or mention New Hampshire. At the same time, the statement doesn’t include language found in previous White House statements on marriage that states should “determine for themselves how best to uphold the rights of their own citizens.” Such language was included in the White House response to the North Carolina anti-gay marriage measure that will be on the ballot in May.

EDGE reporter Michael Lavers reported yesterday on his personal blog that  New Hampshire lawmakers were planning to vote on the measure next week:

The measure is expected to pass in the Republican-controlled state Legislature, but Gov. John Lynch, who signed the marriage equality bill into law in 2009, has said he would veto the measure. It remains unclear whether there are enough votes to override the governor’s veto.


  1. gaylib says

    Pure cowardice. Let’s see, NC is a battleground state with a large Obama constituency that has a problem with gay civil rights, NH isn’t and doesn’t. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why he holds two seemingly contradictory positions when it comes to these anti-gay initiatives.

  2. Puck says

    How can any political body repeal a marriage law? How about we start a campaign to revoke all straight marriage certificates? Funny how folks still are hung up on what my husband and I do in our bedroom…..I don’t wonder about them!

  3. Glenn says

    Obama has done some great things for our community (DADT repeal, for one)…but damn, I wish he would stop this nonsensical triangulating on marriage. If he won’t come out for marriage equality — and to forestall the obvious reactions, yes, I understand the supposed political reasons for it — then just shut up. Statements like this are just embarrassing.

  4. gaylib says

    “He came out AGAINST repealing marriage equality”

    In New Hampshire, where it doesn’t cost him anything politically, but not in North Carolina where it could cause him serious issues. Can’t you read?

  5. says

    “’The president believes strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.’”

    I don’t see anything particularly contradictory here, Gaylib? The NH repeal law would take rights away. The president believes strongly in stopping such laws. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand what he means. Speaking in generalities about state issues is generally what presidents do: not many are keen on presidential interference in state legislation. Of course the potential Republican nominees are all fine with states taking rights away, if they’re our rights.

    Puck, unfortunately the lawmakers in NH have every right to repeal legislation. The marriage bill was passed by Democrats and the Republicans (now in the majority) can (and probably will) pass a bill to take away equality and replace it with blatant inequality. Who we elect has consequences, and NH elected a bunch of right-wingers last time around.

  6. Patric says

    Your response is nothing if not predictable, GayLib.

    First of all, New Hampshire is most certainly a battleground state. Had Al Gore won New Hampshire in 2000, Florida would not have mattered. Look at any electoral college map and you’ll see New Hampshire listed as the only Northeastern swing state. It may not have many electoral votes but, as the 2000 election tells us, those votes could be decisive and, as the election of 2008 and every other election tells us, each campaign will devote a lot of resources to the state.

    Second, there is nothing “seemingly contradictory” about the White House statements on North Carolina and New Hampshire, though I’m hardly surprised by your knee-jerk inclination to suggest the same. They both are identical in their central message: the President opposes these efforts. Removal of the added statement that states should decide these issues for themselves – that removal a positive development for our community – reflects important differences about these two situations (one of which involves a proposed constitutional amendment to be voted on by the public and the other which involves the proposed repeal of an existing marriage equality law, the fate of which rests in the hands of Republican legislators). It is helpful for advocates on our side in the North Carolina battle to portray rejection of the proposed amendment as what it would be – simply maintaining the status quo, signaling to undecided voters that a “no” vote will not usher in marriage equality and that that question will remain open for the state to decide as it sees fit in the coming years. This is an important factual difference from the situation in New Hampshire and it will help our efforts in North Carolina, where we face an uphill battle, if we emphasize to undecided voters that by voting “no” they haven’t thrown away their future discretion on the question of whether to recognize marriage equality or not; they’re simply preserving the status quo. We may find it objectionable to use an argument that suggests that voters should ever have any discretion over whether others’ rights are recognized or not but I would suggest that we should focus more on using language that will help us win this fight.

    By contrast, we already have equality in New Hampshire and face a very real prospect of losing it because of the vote of Republican legislators. In these circumstances, there is no benefit to our side to suggest that such an action by Republican legislators would have any legitimacy.

    Moreover, while it might make a lot of people here feel better about themselves, we need to think strategically about these things. The fate of marriage equality in New Hampshire rests with a handful of Republican legislators and their constituents. Do we really think it would be helpful to our cause for the President to become more involved or associated with our effort? That will hardly help to persuade any of these fence-sitters.

    Start calling me an Obamabot if you like but, for purposes of 2012, imo the President is doing everything we need him to do to advance the cause of marriage equality. We’re making progress and he is not standing in our way and is in fact helping at the margins. We should all realize, as the Rev. Gene Robinson did earlier this week, that – yes, indeed – what’s most important for our prospects in this battle over the next few years is that Mitt Romney does not become President and that that cause will be furthered by making sure that the President wins states like North Carolina and Virginia and that – again, yes indeed – our efforts in North Carolina and Virginia would only be complicated by an endorsement of marriage equality this year by the President, an endorsement which would likely have little practical effect this year in the various venues where our battle is being waged. In 2013, the battlefield will likely have expanded, control of the White House won’t be in the hands of North Carolina and Virginia voters and, yes, it will be useful for the President to then endorse marriage equality. The timing of his endorsement will have been motivated by his own political self-interest but, fortunately, that timing will align nicely with the interests of our own community. The only thing we get out of an endorsement of marriage equality by the President this year is that you feel better about yourself.

  7. says

    Gaylib, I think it’s you who has the reading problem. Back in Sept the President issued a statement opposing the law that will put the freedom to marry up for a statewide vote in NC. He said that states should decide how to UPHOLD the rights of its citizens, and he opposed the efforts in NC to deny rights. Once again, don’t see the contradiction. The only difference is that NH has equality to repeal and NC doesn’t.

  8. Gregv says

    I read it exactly as Ernie did. I don’t understand where these negative comments come from. I know that some of the most ignorant bigots will try to say, “That’s right, our state should find our own way to support our right to deny everybody’s rights.”.
    But the thinking person doesn’t base his values on such oxymoronic ideas.
    Each state needs to find a way to UPHOLD the rights of it’s citizens. States should not be looking for ways to DENY basic rights to their citizens. that’s what Obama has said (though he has a history, which is fading more and more into the past, of feeding the bigots a little crumb here and there, and when that happened it was disappointing)
    I do know though that it would be far more powerful a statement if he would spell it out less ambiguously that he finally supports EQUAL rights for everyone, including the rights of gay couples to marry.

  9. says

    I know it’s tough but we have to remain patient with President Obama friends. Let him get re-elected and then he will be our fiercest advocate and I would bet my house–will come out in favor of marriage equality. But, we have to make sure he is re-elected. If he is not, all hope is lost for a very long time as the GOP will do nothing but erode whatever progress we’ve made.

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