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In New Hampshire, marriage equality repeal could face an uphill battle

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

In an in-depth article published yesterday, New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor looked at the uncertain path for marriage equality repeal in the state, despite veto-proof Republicans majorities in both the House and Senate.  Two weeks ago, House leadership pushed back consideration of the bill from January to February, and any legislative action to repeal the law goes against the overwhelming public opinion on the issue.  Still, the biggest threat to the GOP repeal bill may come from within the Republican caucus of the infamously libertarian state.  From the Monitor:

Rep. Seth Cohn, a Canterbury Republican who moved here as part of the Free State project, a libertarian movement to relocate to New Hampshire, is also against repeal. Cohn and others believe the bill may pass the House but does not have the two-thirds majority to override a potential veto by Democratic Gov. John Lynch, who signed the bill three years ago legalizing same-sex marriage.

“I know for a fact, based on people I’ve talked to, that if Gov. Lynch vetoes it, that veto is not override-able,” Cohn said.

This isn’t to say there aren’t strong proponents of repeal in the New Hampshire legislature; freshman Rep. Andrew Manuse described the state’s marriage equality law as “tyranny.”  In a broader sense, though, for the many libertarian members of the state’s GOP caucus who do not support same-sex marriage, voting for repeal would be equally against their political beliefs.  Rep. Jennifer Coffey (who calls herself a “Goldwater Republican”) voted against marriage equality in 2009, and will also vote against repeal if it should come up this year.  In defending her decision, Coffey told the Monitor, “I voted against government defining marriage.  It doesn’t have the right to define marriage in any sense.”

There are other libertarians in the legislature who agree with Coffey, and want to take government out of the equation entirely.  Rep. Cohn will introduce an amendment to the repeal bill that would give all couples, straight and gay, a civil union, leaving the power to bestow marriages solely to religious institutions.  Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, on the other hand, said he would only vote for the repeal bill if civil unions were established for both straight and gay couples that were strong enough to ensure their recognition, as the Monitor puts it, by “all employers and other entities.”

Given the multiplicity of views on the subject, it seems likely that Cohn is correct in predicting a lack of support for overriding a veto, which Democratic Gov. John Lynch has promised.  It will be interesting, though, to see the effect that New Hampshire’s libertarian lawmakers have on the issue if it is indeed brought up for a vote.

14 Comments

  • 1. Sagesse  |  January 30, 2012 at 9:08 am

    @

  • 2. Straight Ally #3008  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:07 am

    "Rep. Cohn will introduce an amendment to the repeal bill that would give all couples, straight and gay, a civil union, leaving the power to bestow marriages solely to religious institutions."

    Great, no marriage for the non-religious. I can understand where the libertarians are coming from, but they really need to think things through. Bottom line, though, it sounds like Gov. Lynch is a firewall.

  • 3. frisky1  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Okay, I get the point about this helping keep marriage equality alive in NH and that's a very good thing. Now here's my snarky observation about Cohn's bizarre proposal :

    If I'm reading this correctly, some NH libertarians want to change the word from "marriage" to "civil unions" for all and give CUs the exact same meaning as marriage and then come up with a bunch of regulations to make sure that CUs are treated the same as marriages inside and outside the state of NH? And that's considered getting the government out of the marriage definition business?

    This doesn't sound like an actual libertarian solution to reducing the size and scope of government. It appears to be more like pandering to a bunch of whiny babies who can't, or won't, distinguish between civil marriage and holy matrimony. Dissolving the automatic legal and financial short cut that comes when two non-related people sign a marriage certificate would be the true libertarian solution which gets government out of the marriage definition business.

    Although from what I understand, many libertarians would like to see the Civil Rights Act of 1964 go away because of course, market forces ensured that black people were treated so well without it anyway. /sarc off.

  • 4. Bill S.  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:18 am

    The idea is simply preposterous. For one, marriage was originally a civil institution to begin with. To say that the government has no business regulating marriage is like screaming "Get your government hands off of my Medicare!"

    Secondly, it does not at all solve the problem of marriage equality. Those who are against marriage equality are not really against gays and lesbians being married—they're against gays and lesbians having an equal relationship status to their own. Whether this is achieved by raising gay people up to the status of straight people, or lowering straight people down to the status of gay people, those who are against marriage equality are going to be against it anyway.

    Furthermore, only a "marriage" is recognized by the federal government. There are also an innumerable amount of private contracts that use the words "marriage" in their stipulations. Changing everybody's marriage into a civil union could seriously mess a lot of legal things up for a lot of people.

  • 5. Leo  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:35 am

    and then come up with a bunch of regulations to make sure that CUs are treated the same as marriages inside and outside the state of NH

    I don't quite understand how that's supposed to work. How can NH legislature pass regulations in the other 49 states and federally? Not even to mention other countries.

  • 6. Mookie  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:42 am

    "Furthermore, only a "marriage" is recognized by the federal government. There are also an innumerable amount of private contracts that use the words "marriage" in their stipulations. Changing everybody's marriage into a civil union could seriously mess a lot of legal things up for a lot of people."

    Let them…then they will truly learn how inadequate and inferior civil unions really are. Nothing like reality slapping you in the face.

  • 7. AnonyGrl  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

    But the problem then arrises that churches will be able to make "marriages" which are what is legally recognized everywhere else, and we are right back where we started if churches refuse to marry anyone at all.

  • 8. Mookie  |  January 31, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    No, we are not. Civil Unions are not recognized by the federal government. Only marriage. If the state issues only Civil Union licenses for everyone….the state is not recognizing any marriages. The church does not bestow legalities of civil marriage, only the state gives benefits. The church only does "religious" marriage or what is considered the blessing of the contract, it has no legal power. The government cannot recognize the action of a religion. A marriage in a church is still a state function of marriage. That is why a minister must say "by the power vested in me by the state of ___ I now pronounce you…" That is why you need a lawyer to get a divorce and not a priest. That is why atheists can get married. Suddenly the baby has been thrown out with the bath water so to speak. Marriage stops existing for everyone.

  • 9. Seth from Maryland  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:48 am

    http://youtu.be/Enpe8K2I1CQ

    this was a small debate Democrat Delegate Heather Mizeur and Republican Delegate Vitale on the marriage equality, Heather was just amazing through the entire debate and at the end, she just nailed it on the head

  • 10. Seth from Maryland  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

    on the marriage equality bill in maryland

  • 11. Bob  |  January 30, 2012 at 11:11 am

    wow Seth, thanks for that video,,, Catholic vs Catholic,,,,, that's a good place to go,,, with this discussion,,,, and Heather is certainly well spoken, and well informed in both areas, of her understanding of Church doctrine, and the role of secular laws in bestowing righs on families,,,, the church has no authority to grant rights that are needed to protect families,,,, very much goes to the heart of the matter,,,, these two handled it very well,, but here's hoping we can hear more of these debates,

  • 12. Seth from Maryland  |  January 30, 2012 at 11:28 am

    her my governor or senator, i cant type today lol

  • 13. Seth from Maryland  |  January 30, 2012 at 11:40 am

    http://youtu.be/YLUhi-Gky8Q

    Marriage News Watch

  • 14. Josh  |  January 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    "…if civil unions were established for both straight and gay couples that were strong enough to ensure their recognition, as the Monitor puts it, by “all employers and other entities.”"

    Ok, so he's concerned that civil unions might not be fully recognized as marriages? Duh! That's what we've been saying for how long? I guess they never think about that until it might impact them.

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