NH House Kills Anti-Gay Marriage Bill
Reps vote 133-202 against traditional marriage bill.
The New Hampshire House defeated a traditional marriage bill that will lead to the preservation of same-sex marriages in the Granite State.
Representatives debated the issue and various amendments for nearly two hours, with supporters suggesting that the state needed to return to traditional marriage and opponents saying legislators should not be taking rights away from people.
House members were requested to consider three different amendments that would have added approval of civil unions, additional language, a statewide referendum, and an amendment to consider outlawing marriage between two left-handed people.
The rejection of the bill was a victory for Standing Up for NH Families, the organization that has been pressing the preservation of same-sex marriage for months. Before the vote, the group handed out voting cards for members. Supporters and lobbyists were also seen flurrying around outside of Representatives Hall, motioning for specific votes that would eventually damage the bill as the pro-traditional marriage side attempted to get through its amendments to improve the bill.
Most assumed that the bill would be approved but as amendments were slowly peeled away, the tide clearly turned against the bill, with some pro-traditional marriage supporters grumbling that they wanted it all to be over.
A number of Republicans rose to speak against the bill including state Rep. Mike Ball, R-Manchester, who raised the issue of segregation. State Rep. Jennifer Coffey, R-Andover, called on getting “government out of the pulpit of faiths.”
Other Republicans, like state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, R-Salem, spoke for the bill saying the only purpose of same-sex marriage was to provide symbolism and a “psychic benefit” for those couples. Another speaker, state Rep. Dan McGuire, R-Epsom, said the issue was about the definition of words and the dictionary defines a legal union of “a man and a woman, as husband and wife.”
A major floor fight ensued concerning an amendment forwarded by Rep. Seth Cohn, R-Canterbury, suggesting that left-handed people not be allowed to marry. The proposal caused a minor furor with one representative saying it was frivolous while Cohn and Democrats called on a fair up or down vote. In the end, after motions to reconsider, parliamentary inquiries, and points of order, the amendment was not allowed a vote on the floor.
After representatives voted against the traditional marriage bill, they voted 211-116 to rule the bill "inexpedient to legislate," effectively killing the bill permanently. A vote for reconsideration failed 87-211.
After the vote, many responded to the New Hampshire House's actions.
Former state Rep. Jim Splaine, D-Portsmouth, wrote in an email after the vote:
"I was primary sponsor of the 2007 marriage equality law that the House considered repealing today. I'm so pleased that the effort failed. The 211 legislators – two-thirds of all the members – who voted against discrimination and in favor of equality by killing the bill to repeal our law are a credit to the New Hampshire ideal of 'Live Free or Die.' We fought hard in 2007 to earn marriage rights. Many fought hard to keep it now."
In a press release, Standing Up for NH Families stated:
"Today is a banner day for the freedom to marry. Our opponents have been crowing about getting their two-thirds, but in the end, it's clear they couldn't muster the votes. This is a victory for our supporters – the majority of Granite Staters who oppose any roll back of marriage equality – because they reached out time and again and told lawmakers to leave this law alone. This was our opponents' best shot and they blew it. This was supposed to be the most favorable legislative climate for repeal and they couldn't even get a majority."
Democratic candidate for governor and former state Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-Exeter, wrote:
“In 2009, we answered the civil rights call of our time by making marriage equality a reality for each and every New Hampshire citizen. As Senate Majority Leader, I was proud to play a leading role in making that happen. Today the New Hampshire House surprised us all by voting against the repeal of marriage equality. I sincerely thank each legislator who stood up for equality and stood up for what is right. I strongly oppose any repeal of marriage equality. As governor, just as I did in the state Senate, I will fight for equality for all."
Former House Speaker and Minority Leader Terie Norelli said in a statement:
“I would like to praise the NH House for recognizing that in NH, marriage equality is for all NH citizens. The vote today solidifies what the majority of NH citizens believe – that marriage equality is about the people of this great state. I am very proud of the House vote today to uphold our marriage laws and to be a leader in our nation.”
Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the former governor of the Granite State, said in a statement:
“I want to praise all the Democrats and Republicans in the New Hampshire House who came together today to stand up against efforts to repeal gay marriage in our state. We must continue to push back against discrimination and any efforts to undo the progress that has been made to advance equal rights for gay and lesbian couples.”