January 21, 2011
By Adam Bink
In an interesting twist, NOM efforts to scare the Republican legislative leadership in New Hampshire may have backfired:
New Hampshire’s House Republican leader said Friday he will ask that the fight to repeal gay marriage be postponed until 2012.
Rep. D.J. Bettencourt told The Associated Press he will ask the committee responsible for the repeal bill to retain it until next year.
Bettencourt said the National Organization for Marriage sent a direct mailer to his district in Salem saying he doesn’t support traditional family values. He said the mailer was the result of his announcement last week that the House Republican agenda did not include repealing gay marriage.
Bettencourt said the incident shows how controversial the issue is and reinforces his belief the House should focus on fiscal issues this year.
In a letter to House Speaker William O’Brien, Bettencourt said the organization and its supporters in New Hampshire know the repeal bill will be acted upon because legislative rules require floor votes on bills.
“This assault on our agenda has the potential to take important focus and energy away from our focus on the budget,’’ Bettencourt wrote O’Brien. “Therefore, it is my belief that the same sex marriage repeal must be retained in the Judiciary Committee this year so that our full and undivided attention is focused on New Hampshire’s outstanding financial issues.’’
Interesting bit of drama there. Overall, a positive bit of news.
Response from our friends at NH Freedom to Marry:
Concord, NH — The Associated Press’ Norma Love is reporting the National Organization for Marriage “sent a direct mailer to his district in Salem saying he doesn’t support traditional family values. He said the mailer was the result of his announcement last week that the House Republican agenda did not include repealing gay marriage. The executive director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry, Mo Baxley, issued this statement.
“This is a clear effort by a small but well-funded extremist group to bully the GOP House Majority Leader. As any responsible leader would, Bettencourt is focused on creating jobs and economic recovery, the main reason why voters put Republicans in charge in New Hampshire. Lawmakers should be aware of the reams of evidence showing how out of the mainstream NOM and Cornerstone Action really are.”
Bettencourt said his office will make that position clear in testimony it provides at any hearing on the bill.
State Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, the bill’s prime sponsor, said he won’t fight leadership, but will tell the committee handling his bill he believes it would be better to put the issue to rest this year.
“It’s controversial, but this only drags out the controversy rather than bringing it to a conclusion sooner. I don’t know why we’d want to elongate it over 15 months,’’ said Bates.
As Bettencourt notes, there’s a vote required, but I firmly believe that the longer couples are married and visible and more people can see this is good for the state, the economy, and fairness, the better off we’ll be.