New Hampshire Towns Rejecting Reconsideration of Marriage Equality
Though anti-gay activists have started to pursue an attempt to overturn marriage equality in New Hampshire, towns in that state seem to be rejecting the anti-marriage push.
Manchester, New Hampshire, news station WMUR Channel 9 reported in a Feb. 1 article that anti-gay activists around the state have brought the issue before city governments at town meetings since marriage equality became law on Jan. 1. However, petitions to rescind marriage rights from the state’s gay and lesbian families have so far gained little traction; the town of Deerfield rejected a petition to the city’s government to send a letter to state lawmakers urging that a Proposition 8-style ballot initiative be placed before voters that would write anti-gay discrimination into the New Hampshire constitution.
On Feb. 1, the town of Londonderry also rejected such a petition through a unanimous vote from the town council. The petition was brought to the town council by state Rep. Al Baldasaro, who now has the option of gathering more signatures in order to put the question to a vote by town residents. Baldasaro was quoted in a Jan. 20 WMUR article as saying, "My main intent is to repeal gay marriage and come up with a constitutional amendment and let New Hampshire vote." State lawmakers in Concord heard from anti-gay activists as well as equality advocates that day; gay state lawmaker Robert Thompson addressed his colleagues at the hearing, introducing his spouse with the words, "This is my husband, Michael Jacobson. We were married Jan. 2, 2010. Now, I’m here to address having rights granted a year ago taken away."
Even if Baldasaro chooses not to gather the additional signatures, anti-gay activist Martin Bove has already started gathering the required number of signatures to force a town vote in March, the article said.
Demonstrators both for and against the petition to put family rights for gays and lesbians to a popular vote gathered outside the Londonderry City Hall. "We now have the legal right and now they want to go back on it," a member of The New Hampshire Students for the Protection of Gay Marriage told the news station.
A supporter of the anti-marriage petition said, "I think it’s only fair that the people of New Hampshire get the opportunity to vote."
A similar vote went before voters in Maine last November, with the result that legal rights for gay and lesbian families were rescinded before a law passed by Maine legislators could take effect. But the ballot initiative process in New Hampshire is more complicated, and any such measure would have to be approved by a greater margin for marriage rights to be taken away from that state’s families.