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Legislative Attack on Gay Families Continues in New Hampshire

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Sep 15, 2011
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A subcommittee in the New Hampshire state House of Representatives has approved a bill that would yank marriage rights from gay and lesbian citizens and substitute marriage with the lesser legal option of civil unions, reported local newspaper the Union-Leader on Sept. 14.

If enacted, the law would represent a step backward for the Granite State, which had offered civil unions to gay and lesbian families before upgrading the rights of those families to full state-level marriage equality at the beginning of last year.

Those families that already have married would be allowed to stay married under the bill’s provisions, creating a two-tiered system of legal classification for same-sex couples similar to the one that California’s families now contend with in the wake of voter approval of Proposition 8 in 2008.

In another development, Gov. John Lynch, a proponent of family parity, announced on Sept. 15 that he does not intend to run for re-election.

In its original form, the bill to rescind marriage rights for same-sex families would also have denied them civil unions. But the measure has been softened since then, at least nominally; civil unions would be open to gay and straight couples alike, but any person, business, or institution that does not wish to recognize the relationship of those in a civil union would be free to practice discrimination without penalty under the bill’s provisions.

The harm the bill would do to gay and lesbian families would most likely be immediate and wide reaching. But proponents of the rollback on family rights for gays claim that allowing committed same-sex couples to marry would be even more damaging to society as whole.

Although no indication of any such harm has become evident in the nearly two years that gays and lesbians have been able to marry one another in New Hampshire -- or the seven years since marriage equality was inaugurated in neighboring Massachusetts -- Republican State Rep. Gregory Sorg said that social harm would inevitably arise after decades unless marriage equality is brought to an end.

"Some societal changes take generations to manifest themselves," Sorg claimed, though without offering evidence to back up the assertion that any future manifestations of marriage equality would prove to be harmful.

Foes of the bill reserved such language for the proposal itself, with Tyler Deaton, a GLBT equality advocate with pro-parity group Standing up for New Hampshire Families calling the measure "pernicious," the newspaper reported.

"It goes out of its way to employ discriminatory language," declared Deaton.

Anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage has worked to bring marriage quality to an end in New Hampshire, as it did in Maine in 2009 and in California with Proposition 8. When New York legalized marriage equality earlier this year, NOM vowed to oust GOP lawmakers who supported the family equality law. The results of a special election earlier this week, in which a Republican candidate beat a Democratic rival for the seat left vacant by Congressman Anthony Weiner in the wake of a sexting scandal, provided NOM with an occasion to crow.

"This district, which Obama won, Clinton won, and which has had a Democrat in Congress since 1923, showed Tuesday that marriage is important," NOM head Brian Brown declared.

"David Weprin was not able to defend himself against his vote to support same-sex marriage in New York, and his constituents made that clear," Brown added. " And on Tuesday, well over a majority of them showed Weprin that they have had enough."

NOM’s victory dance continued with Brown declaring, "David Weprin is not going to Congress for one reason: He listened to Andrew Cuomo, Michael Bloomberg, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and a few billionaires on Wall Street and went along with them to redefine marriage."

But reputable news sources identified voter discontent as the reason for Turner’s victory in the heavily Democratic district, with Weprin’s ineptly handled campaign an aggravating factor. Moreover, though the marriage issue may have cost Weprin some votes from Orthodox Jews, he likely lost far more votes over the Obama Administration’s policies regarding Israel.

Not even the Republican leadership suggested that marriage equality had anything to do with Turner’s Scott Brown-style victory -- a success for the GOP that came only after Democrats won the last three special elections in New York.

New Hampshire Republicans had initially indicated some reluctance to tackle the social issue of marriage equality when the nation is still hurting from the economic meltdown and signs of another recession are on the horizon. Voters are far more concerned about real-world issues like jobs than they are in claims of nebulous social harm by allowing couples of the same gender to marry one another.

But although social issues have played little part on the national stage as the GOP’s contenders for next year’s presidential elections continue to battle it out, anti-gay groups and lawmakers around the country have continued to place an emphasis on denying -- and rolling back -- legal advances for GLBT individuals and their families.

The full New Hampshire House will not vote on the measure until 2012, if at all. Only then would the bill move to the state senate, noted Reuters in a Sept. 14 article.

Gov. John Lynch had said that he would veto any attempt by New Hampshire lawmakers to rescind the marriage rights of gay and lesbian families, a Sept. 15 On Top Magazine article noted. But the midterm elections saw Republicans gain more power in New Hampshire, as in many parts of the country, as voters registered their displeasure at the ongoing economic crisis.

With a veto-proof majority now in place, Lynch, a four-term governor, would not be able to stop determined anti-gay lawmakers if they secured enough support. But Lynch will not be in a position to veto such legislation in any case: The governor announced on Sept. 15 that he would not seek re-election at the end of his current term, which expires in 2012.

A subcommittee in the New Hampshire state House of Representatives has approved a bill that would yank marriage rights from gay and lesbian citizens and substitute marriage with the lesser legal option of civil unions, reported local newspaper the Union-Leader on Sept. 14.

If enacted, the law would represent a step backward for the Granite State, which had offered civil unions to gay and lesbian families before upgrading the rights of those families to full state-level marriage equality at the beginning of last year.

Those families that already have married would be allowed to stay married under the bill’s provisions, creating a two-tiered system of legal classification for same-sex couples similar to the one that California’s families now contend with in the wake of voter approval of Proposition 8 in 2008.

In another development, Gov. John Lynch, a proponent of family parity, announced on Sept. 15 that he does not intend to run for re-election.

In its original form, the bill to rescind marriage rights for same-sex families would also have denied them civil unions. But the measure has been softened since then, at least nominally; civil unions would be open to gay and straight couples alike, but any person, business, or institution that does not wish to recognize the relationship of those in a civil union would be free to practice discrimination without penalty under the bill’s provisions.

The harm the bill would do to gay and lesbian families would most likely be immediate and wide reaching. But proponents of the rollback on family rights for gays claim that allowing committed same-sex couples to marry would be even more damaging to society as whole.

Although no indication of any such harm has become evident in the nearly two years that gays and lesbians have been able to marry one another in New Hampshire -- or the seven years since marriage equality was inaugurated in neighboring Massachusetts -- Republican State Rep. Gregory Sorg said that social harm would inevitably arise after decades unless marriage equality is brought to an end.

"Some societal changes take generations to manifest themselves," Sorg claimed, though without offering evidence to back up the assertion that any future manifestations of marriage equality would prove to be harmful.

Foes of the bill reserved such language for the proposal itself, with Tyler Deaton, a GLBT equality advocate with pro-parity group Standing up for New Hampshire Families calling the measure "pernicious," the newspaper reported.

"It goes out of its way to employ discriminatory language," declared Deaton.

Anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage has worked to bring marriage quality to an end in New Hampshire, as it did in Maine in 2009 and in California with Proposition 8. When New York legalized marriage equality earlier this year, NOM vowed to oust GOP lawmakers who supported the family equality law. The results of a special election earlier this week, in which a Republican candidate beat a Democratic rival for the seat left vacant by Congressman Anthony Weiner in the wake of a sexting scandal, provided NOM with an occasion to crow.

"This district, which Obama won, Clinton won, and which has had a Democrat in Congress since 1923, showed Tuesday that marriage is important," NOM head Brian Brown declared.

"David Weprin was not able to defend himself against his vote to support same-sex marriage in New York, and his constituents made that clear," Brown added. " And on Tuesday, well over a majority of them showed Weprin that they have had enough."

NOM’s victory dance continued with Brown declaring, "David Weprin is not going to Congress for one reason: He listened to Andrew Cuomo, Michael Bloomberg, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and a few billionaires on Wall Street and went along with them to redefine marriage."

But reputable news sources identified voter discontent as the reason for Turner’s victory in the heavily Democratic district, with Weprin’s ineptly handled campaign an aggravating factor. Moreover, though the marriage issue may have cost Weprin some votes from Orthodox Jews, he likely lost far more votes over the Obama Administration’s policies regarding Israel.

Not even the Republican leadership suggested that marriage equality had anything to do with Turner’s Scott Brown-style victory -- a success for the GOP that came only after Democrats won the last three special elections in New York.

New Hampshire Republicans had initially indicated some reluctance to tackle the social issue of marriage equality when the nation is still hurting from the economic meltdown and signs of another recession are on the horizon. Voters are far more concerned about real-world issues like jobs than they are in claims of nebulous social harm by allowing couples of the same gender to marry one another.

But although social issues have played little part on the national stage as the GOP’s contenders for next year’s presidential elections continue to battle it out, anti-gay groups and lawmakers around the country have continued to place an emphasis on denying -- and rolling back -- legal advances for GLBT individuals and their families.

The full New Hampshire House will not vote on the measure until 2012, if at all. Only then would the bill move to the state senate, noted Reuters in a Sept. 14 article.

Gov. John Lynch had said that he would veto any attempt by New Hampshire lawmakers to rescind the marriage rights of gay and lesbian families, a Sept. 15 On Top Magazine article noted. But the midterm elections saw Republicans gain more power in New Hampshire, as in many parts of the country, as voters registered their displeasure at the ongoing economic crisis.

With a veto-proof majority now in place, Lynch would not be able to stop determined anti-gay lawmakers if they secured enough support. But Lynch will not be in a position to veto such legislation in any case: The governor announced on Sept. 15 that he would not seek re-election at the end of his current term, which expires in 2012, the Associated Press reported on Sept. 15.

Lynch’s announcement was made during a press conference at Manchester Elementary School in Manchester, NH.

"A subcommittee in the New Hampshire state House of Representatives has approved a bill that would yank marriage rights from gay and lesbian citizens and substitute marriage with the lesser legal option of civil unions, reported local newspaper the Union-Leader on Sept. 14.

If enacted, the law would represent a step backward for the Granite State, which had offered civil unions to gay and lesbian families before upgrading the rights of those families to full state-level marriage equality at the beginning of last year.

Those families that already have married would be allowed to stay married under the bill’s provisions, creating a two-tiered system of legal classification for same-sex couples similar to the one that California’s families now contend with in the wake of voter approval of Proposition 8 in 2008.

In another development, Gov. John Lynch, a proponent of family parity, announced on Sept. 15 that he does not intend to run for re-election.

In its original form, the bill to rescind marriage rights for same-sex families would also have denied them civil unions. But the measure has been softened since then, at least nominally; civil unions would be open to gay and straight couples alike, but any person, business, or institution that does not wish to recognize the relationship of those in a civil union would be free to practice discrimination without penalty under the bill’s provisions.

The harm the bill would do to gay and lesbian families would most likely be immediate and wide reaching. But proponents of the rollback on family rights for gays claim that allowing committed same-sex couples to marry would be even more damaging to society as whole.

Although no indication of any such harm has become evident in the nearly two years that gays and lesbians have been able to marry one another in New Hampshire -- or the seven years since marriage equality was inaugurated in neighboring Massachusetts -- Republican State Rep. Gregory Sorg said that social harm would inevitably arise after decades unless marriage equality is brought to an end.

"Some societal changes take generations to manifest themselves," Sorg claimed, though without offering evidence to back up the assertion that any future manifestations of marriage equality would prove to be harmful.

Foes of the bill reserved such language for the proposal itself, with Tyler Deaton, a GLBT equality advocate with pro-parity group Standing up for New Hampshire Families calling the measure "pernicious," the newspaper reported.

"It goes out of its way to employ discriminatory language," declared Deaton.

Anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage has worked to bring marriage quality to an end in New Hampshire, as it did in Maine in 2009 and in California with Proposition 8. When New York legalized marriage equality earlier this year, NOM vowed to oust GOP lawmakers who supported the family equality law. The results of a special election earlier this week, in which a Republican candidate beat a Democratic rival for the seat left vacant by Congressman Anthony Weiner in the wake of a sexting scandal, provided NOM with an occasion to crow.

"This district, which Obama won, Clinton won, and which has had a Democrat in Congress since 1923, showed Tuesday that marriage is important," NOM head Brian Brown declared.

"David Weprin was not able to defend himself against his vote to support same-sex marriage in New York, and his constituents made that clear," Brown added. " And on Tuesday, well over a majority of them showed Weprin that they have had enough."

NOM’s victory dance continued with Brown declaring, "David Weprin is not going to Congress for one reason: He listened to Andrew Cuomo, Michael Bloomberg, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and a few billionaires on Wall Street and went along with them to redefine marriage."

But reputable news sources identified voter discontent as the reason for Turner’s victory in the heavily Democratic district, with Weprin’s ineptly handled campaign an aggravating factor. Moreover, though the marriage issue may have cost Weprin some votes from Orthodox Jews, he likely lost far more votes over the Obama Administration’s policies regarding Israel.

Not even the Republican leadership suggested that marriage equality had anything to do with Turner’s Scott Brown-style victory -- a success for the GOP that came only after Democrats won the last three special elections in New York.

New Hampshire Republicans had initially indicated some reluctance to tackle the social issue of marriage equality when the nation is still hurting from the economic meltdown and signs of another recession are on the horizon. Voters are far more concerned about real-world issues like jobs than they are in claims of nebulous social harm by allowing couples of the same gender to marry one another.

But although social issues have played little part on the national stage as the GOP’s contenders for next year’s presidential elections continue to battle it out, anti-gay groups and lawmakers around the country have continued to place an emphasis on denying -- and rolling back -- legal advances for GLBT individuals and their families.

The full New Hampshire House will not vote on the measure until 2012, if at all. Only then would the bill move to the state senate, noted Reuters in a Sept. 14 article.

Gov. John Lynch had said that he would veto any attempt by New Hampshire lawmakers to rescind the marriage rights of gay and lesbian families, a Sept. 15 On Top Magazine article noted. But the midterm elections saw Republicans gain more power in New Hampshire, as in many parts of the country, as voters registered their displeasure at the ongoing economic crisis.

With a veto-proof majority now in place, Lynch would not be able to stop determined anti-gay lawmakers if they secured enough support. But Lynch will not be in a position to veto such legislation in any case: The governor announced on Sept. 15 that he would not seek re-election at the end of his current term, which expires in 2012.

Lynch’s announcement was made during a press conference at Manchester Elementary School in Manchester, NH.

"[D]emocracy demands periodic change," Lynch told his listeners. "To refresh and revive itself, democracy needs new leaders and new ideas. I think it’s time for the next generation of leadership for New Hampshire."

The GOP instantly expressed an intention to take the governor’s office in New Hampshire, with the Republican Governor’s Association putting out a statement even as Lynch continued his speech.

"New Hampshire Republicans were already fired up at the prospect of turning the state red in 2012," the statement, from Executive Director Phil Cox, read. "John Lynch’s decision to forego a re-election bid increases the GOP’s chances of picking up the governorship and puts the Democrats further on their heels nationally in 2012."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2011-09-16 21:03:29

    I have had it with bigots messing with me and my family!! Go ahead, bring it on. Uprising to follow ...


  • john eason, 2011-09-17 23:50:25

    the republicans seem to be nothing but bigots plus the largest hate group around.they’re are trying to make it appear they are so religious that’s a big joke in itself .the only religion they have is money and who has biggest purse to hand out money.this also goes for the tea party which just a bunch of republicans trying to pull the wool over the american publican


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