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NH House Kills Anti-Gay Marriage Bill

Reps vote 133-202 against traditional marriage bill.

The New Hampshire House defeated a 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 , 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 . 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.

Other responses

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.”

Wendy James March 24, 2012 at 08:08 PM
@ Oedipus. In answer to your question, YES.
Robert J. Recio March 24, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Dennis, I would argue that a "contract" between two people is a private record that can only be enforced after there is a breach and a resort to the courts. So, how should a government agency verify benefits like Social Security? How should a tax agency evaluate survivor's benefits when there is only the proof of a piece of paper that could have been written at any time? Marriage exists for a reason. It is a SOCIALLY and LEGALLY valid relationship which we acknowledge as such. It has all kind of legal and social ramifications that a contract does not. That aside, whatever we create must be open to all. That is what the equality we value is all about.
Dennis Taylor March 24, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Robert: You are arguing from a perspective that the state should hand out marraige licenses and provide survivor's benefits to widows and widowers. This view of things is discriminatory to single people, who do not share in these benefits. Moreover, why can't individuals buy private insurance to take care of their spouses? As far as the contracts go, couples could use them to clarify expectations and would likely resort to the courts with roughly the frequency that business partners do. However, if parties need to go to court, isn't it fairer that they should go to dispute a particular contract, as opposed to hoping that their judge will view their marriage as they do? When one divorces, one has to lay one's wealth, income, and children at the feet of the court, hoping to get a particular settlement. Courts should only enforce basic child support and enforce the child custody agreements in the contract documents. After all, the court has no interest in the child visitation schedules--who lives with whom--prior to a divorce. We have allowed the government unneeded power and our decision to do so is a burden on our economy.
jrmetalman March 24, 2012 at 08:28 PM
When I say you are OBAMA DUMMIES I mean that in the best possible way. I am giving you credit for being so dumb in a spiritual sense.You being spiritually dead just don't know any better! Dummies can't think for themselves they are programmed by others that's why you need all those links. You guys are the weakest links.
Marc Fortier March 24, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I'm suspending any further commenting on this story due to some extremely inappropriate comments.

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