According to the AP, the New Hampshire State House on Thursday voted narrowly to make that state the third that would allow gay couples to marry.
The bill, HB 436, which passed the House 186-179, next goes to the Senate, where its future is uncertain. Governor John Lynch (D) claims to oppose gay marriage but has not said specifically that he would veto it. Two years ago, the Legislature approved, and Lynch signed, civil unions for gays, which provide all the rights of marriage, except in name.
Currently, only Connecticut and Massachusetts allow gay couples to marry. The Vermont Senate sent a gay marriage bill to the House this week, but Gov. Jim Douglas (R) says he will veto it if it reaches his desk.
Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline), who is black and married to a white man, said her marriage was still a crime in Virginia in the mid-1960s. “We have had a long history of challenging conventional wisdom — the Earth is flat, people from different continents should not marry, people who are the same should not marry,” she said.
Never one to be shy, longtime RLC ally Steve Vaillancourt (pictured, right) defended his vote in favor of gay marriage in an e-mail to me (posting permission granted):
“As happy as I was over the victory of gay marriage yesterday, I was deeply saddened that only 13 Republicans were on board for the first vote and then only 12 for the second vote (and only five for the vital bill of granting equal rights to transgendered folks). I am ashamed of the Republican Party; I am especially ashamed of Republicans who claim to be libertarians who could not bring themselves to vote for this bill.“
“I am disgusted by Chairman Sununu’s attempt to brand New Hampshire as San Francisco. As wrong as he is morally, he is equally as wrong politically. These scare tactics will not merely fair, but they will backfire. He is leading the party to permanent minority status. Republicans are losing the moral authority on spending and less government issues by insisting on staking out the immoral ground on social issues from marriage to — dare I say it — the humane issue of medical marijuana.”
“We must end all discrimination, and we must do it now. There’s never been a better time.”
In addition to the correct vote cast by Vaillancourt, RLC-endorsed State Rep. Calvin Pratt also was one of the thirteen courageous Republicans with a backbone. RLC-endorsed Rep. Jenn Coffey was not able to vote on the measure because she was at work. (New Hampshire does not have a full-time legislature.)
Even past RLC allies were wrong on this bill: for example, State Republican Party Chairman John H. Sununu criticized the House vote as an “attempt by the liberal Democrats in the Legislature to impose their San Francisco agenda on the state of New Hampshire.” Additionally, State Rep. Nancy Elliott of Merrimack said marriage was instituted by God and that “marriage between a man and a woman is perfect and holy.” Perhaps so, but the government has no reputation of sanctioning that which is holy or perfect, nor is that the role of government.
As controversial as this post may be, it is important that it be made. Please note that I am writing to express my own view on the issue of gay marriage (which is not necessarily representative of other opinions within the RLC).
Personally, I hope the bill passes the Senate and is signed by the Governor. Thanks to Reps. Vaillancourt and Pratt for representing the correct libertarian perspective on the issue — EQUAL RIGHTS!