[Speaker Bill ]O’Brien and [Majority Leader D.J.]Bettancourt:
* Have NOT committed to “retaining” any social issues bills until 2012; * Have NOT said that Committee chairs have been instructed to vote against these bills; * Have NOT said the the leadership will provide cover to legislators against Tea Party wrath (you’ve noticed that tea party activists oppose gay marriage, right?) by publicly opposing these bills; * Have NOT even said that votes on these bill will be entirely up to the conscience of the legislator, with no pressure from leadership.
There is nothing at all behind this announcement, except a desire to get the spotlights off themselves.
The homophobes want their vote. Seems like GOP leaders will eventually give it to them. In other words, the Majority Leader probably lied yesterday.
Having been in Concord for a few days, I forgot what the real world is like outside of DC. It’s refreshing, even if the locals wear a lot of camo. Not my thing, but, hey, to each his own–which is the attitude of the Granite State, whose motto is “Live Free or Die.” A strong strand of libertarianism has defined New Hampshire for decades.
And it is in this kind of environment where the next marriage fight– to repeal marriage equality or not to repeal– will play out.
We expect a bill—or bills plural– to be introduced very soon that would take away marriage rights for LGBT couples. For a year now, LGBT couples—about 1,000 of them—have gotten married. Nothing has changed. The clocks haven’t stopped. Havoc didn’t ensue as predicted by the anti-gay right.
It’s mind boggling that some in the new Republican majority in the statehouse think people here want them to actually re-litigate the marriage question. This was debated for years and is now a done deal. Enough already about gay marriage. Let’s move on. All people care about, according to every single poll, now are jobs and economic recovery.
But the so-called National Organization for Marriage and the New Hampshire arm of the Family Research Council, Cornerstone Action, won’t rest until they successfully deny marriage to committed LGBT couples. New Hampshire is one of their highest priority targets.
We’ll be updating you in this space when NOM lands in the state and provide a play-by-play of legislative activity coming out of the statehouse.
The “Live Free or Die” State is about to choose option B for its LGBT citizens. In November Republicans were elected in veto-proof majorities to both Houses of their Legislature — 19-5 in the Senate, 298-102 in the House — and it is their stated intention to repeal the marriage equality law that went into effect a year ago today. Taking away their citizens' freedom to marry, the state's motto leaves them but one other choice: death.
Already four Legislative Service Requests (precursors to formal bills) with intent to redefine marriage solely between a man and a women have been filed by members of the new legislature. It seems all but certain that one such bill will be brought up and passed in the coming session, vetoed by Democratic Governor Bill Lynch, and then a veto override attempted.
What will it take to sustain the Governor's veto? Assuming all remaining Democrats would vote to sustain the veto, it would take four Republican Senators, for a total of 9 votes of out 24, or 32 Republican House members, for a total of 134 votes of out 400 to deny a two-thirds supermajority. My understanding is that the former (finding four Republican Senators) is considered extremely unlikely, leaving it to defenders of marriage equality to round up at least 32 House Republicans (and possibly more, if there are Democratic defectors) — approximately 11% or one in every nine Republican House members.
I certainly don't know if that can be done, and nothing I've read on the subject is making any predictions at this point. But according to SeaCoastOnline, Jim Splaine, who sponsored the existing law, has done some calculations:
Splaine looked at the numbers and said, if those who support marriage equality can find 50 or 60 Republicans “who will join the Democrats in upholding any veto,” he believes they will succeed.
That's seriously depressing, if true, but math doesn't lie: it mean that he believes that at least 18 Democrats would defect and vote for repeal.
So what happens if such a law is enacted?
While the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New Hampshire did not take effect for more than six months after it was passed, there is no guarantee that there would be any such delay if a repeal were to become law. In New Hampshire, each bill contains the date that it will take effect; there is no mandatory waiting period.
No one knows yet whether the language in such a law would completely annul existing same-sex marriages, turn them into civil unions or leave them as is. The language may be vague enough, as was California's, to force a court to ultimately decide what the fate of the approximately 3,000 same-sex couples who have been married since January 1, 2010 is to be.
Another question is whether enacting such a law will trigger a new federal suit, similar to Perry v Schwarzenegger. It too would claim that revoking marriage equality violates the United States constitution. Unfortunately, it seems like such a claim would be a lot harder to make stick, since it will be much harder to point to animus on the part of the Legislature than it was in the Perry trial. In Perry, the defendant-intervenors were the group that organized and campaigned for the Proposition 8 ballot initiative. Unlike Perry, there will be no television ads seething with hatred to cite, no innuendo that gays are out to steal children for their agenda to point at, and no campaign websites spouting lies and bigoted attitudes to present as evidence.
If the Republicans touting this bill are sane (which they will not be, and thank something for that) all there will be will be speeches of the floor of the New Hampshire House and the Senate defending the 'sanctity of traditional marriage.' Seems hard to prove animus in a court of law from just that. Are national LGBT organizations or others willing to sponsor such a lawsuit without as strong a case, despite the success (so far) of Perry v Schwarzenegger?
Perhaps more importantly, are national LGBT organizations up to fighting these bills-to-be before they become law in any sort of serious way? So far I've seen little to suggest that national organizations like the Human Rights Campaign or the Courage Campaign are focusing effort on New Hampshire. Did they fail to learn the lessons of California in 2008, and then again, of Iowa in 2010 where the battle was never even joined?
From notes on their web site, the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry group seems to be organizing, but I suspect they will be outgunned, outspent and outpeopled by NOM and other hate groups unless there is aid and assistance from national groups.
Opponents of equality will stop at nothing to gain the victory they so desire: a rollback of human rights in New Hampshire. It's time for the LGBT Community and supporters to wake up from the pleasant dream that was the vote on Don't Ask, Don't Tell's still-to-be-realized repeal and smell the stench that is about to rise in New Hampshire. However badly I mix metaphors. Pam’s House Blend – Front Page
A federal appeals court has ruled that a New Hampshire Patriot Act requiring the “voluntary” recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance does not force religion on students. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had argued that even a so-called voluntary recitation of the words “under God” violated the Constitution and made outcasts of students unwilling to participate.
The panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on Friday rejected the claim that exposing children to group recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance violated their constitutional rights. The judges, a Clinton nominee, a George W. Bush nominee and an Obama nominee, agreed the pledge references religion, but they said its purpose is to encourage patriotism. The ruling affirms a 2009 ruling by U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe at the federal court in Concord. “In reciting the Pledge, students promise fidelity to our flag and our nation, not to any particular God, faith or church,” wrote Chief Judge Sandra Lynch. “The New Hampshire School Patriot Act’s primary effect is not the advancement of religion, but the advancement of patriotism through a pledge to the flag as a symbol of the nation.”
Christianist website World Net Daily hailed the decision with this headline: “Court: Constitution ‘does not require complete separation of church and state’.” In 1954 the words “under God” were added to the Pledge after the Knights Of Columbus pressured members of Congress to make the change.
Last week, New Hampshire Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Paul Hodes (D) denounced a New Hampshire newspaper’s refusal to publish marriage notices for same-sex couples.
The New Hampshire Union Leader, New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, refused to publish marriage announcements for same-sex couples after a recently wed male couple attempted to place an announcement for their October 23 wedding in the paper. Although same-sex marriage is legal in New Hampshire, the editor of the Union Leader has chosen to deny coverage for same-sex couples, and to its readers who celebrate such commitments.
Rep. Hodes spoke out against the Union Leader’s decision, saying the paper should respect state law and “allow all couples to have equal access to their publication.” Hodes challenged Republican opponent and former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte to join him in denouncing the paper.
Hodes has consistently had a pro-equality record, and supported marriage equality both in New Hampshire and nationally as a co-sponsor of a bill to repeal the “Defense of Marriage Act.” He has also voted for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and is a cosponsor of the fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Hodes faces former state attorney general Kelly Ayotte, who recently said that gays should not be allowed to adopt children. Help Hodes continue the fight for equality in the Senate by donating to his campaign at www.hrc.org/candidates.
Paid for by Human Rights Campaign PAC and authorized by Hodes for Senate
The following comes from Mary Lou Paquette, A veteran from New Hampshire who has worked closely with HRC on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal:
I’m a late bloomer as far as activism goes. It took me 21 years of serving in the military to finally speak out about equality and justice. Emotionally, I had to become active in the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” It has taken such a toll on my life that I couldn’t stay silent any longer.
In June of this year I met Christine Sloane of the Human Rights Campaign and began attending events and collecting petitions in support of the repeal of DADT. Christine’s enthusiasm and ever present positive energy was the motivation that kept me going.
Today I was afforded the opportunity to drop off hundreds of signatures from New Hampshire residents in support of repealing DADT. Senator Gregg has not announced whether he is voting for or against the repeal. We’ve worked hard to show Senator Gregg that the right thing to do is to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and repeal this discriminatory law.
One of the first lessons I learned in the military was “never assume.” I’ll be pacing the floors until the vote and until we see full repeal. I am confident, however, that I’ve done all that I can.
I’d like to thank Christine, Congressman Paul Hodes and all of the New Hampshire residents who voiced their support for the repeal.
Elie Wiesel, author of “Night” wrote, “neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” It is time; I hope you will join me in continuing to fight for equality to all.
The following post comes from HRC Volunteer Fellow Josh Cooley
Our crew – HRC’s Regional Field Organizer Christine Sloane, Jessica Kenny, Tom LaValley and myself – raced over to the Queen City itself – Manchester, NH – to gather petition signatures and prompt phone calls into Senator Gregg’s office urging him to support the repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We focused our efforts around Elm Street where the Annual CIGNA 5k road race was under way. As the runners were ready to compete, we sprung into action! We sprinted from supporter to supporter; gathering signatures from the fans, friends and family surrounding the 6,000 racers.
One of our volunteers, Tom, was saddened to meet a woman who wanted to join the service but was denied due to her sexual orientation. Meeting this young woman and her mother fueled him on to keep working the crowd to repeal this discriminatory law. We got to see firsthand the effects of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prevent this healthy young woman from serving her country. She is one of so many people who want to serve but can’t. That is what this work is all about. We shared stories, smiles, awareness and some complementary pizza slices given to us as a woman signed our petition to Senator Gregg (thank you!).
As a resident of New Hampshire, I can personally say that it makes me feel so much pride and excitement that there are so many sensibly-minded individuals who care about their troops and their country as much as I do. Thanks Manchester!
Christine Sloane, our Regional Field Organizer in New Hampshire for DADT Repeal, adds:
We’re still here on the ground fighting to show Senator Gregg that the Granite state supports all of our troops and that it’s time to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” This is not only an important issue for the LGBT community, it is essential for the strength of our nation to value, honor and support every able man or woman who wishes to serve his or her country- regardless of sexual orientation. This is it; every one of us involved in this battle is going to be part of history.
Do you want to be part of history, too? We’ll be holding a phone bank on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 from 5:30-9:00 p.m. to mobilize New Hampshire residents to help repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We need your help to make sure that New Hampshire continues to stand up for what’s right.