David Bates, the Republican state
representative behind a bill that would repeal New Hampshire's
2-year-old gay marriage law, says passage would be historic.
“This vote has national
ramifications. If we're able to restore traditional marriage here,
it will be the only time anywhere ever that a legislature has
reversed its position,” Bates told the Nashua
While Maine's gay marriage law was
repealed with a “people's veto” and Proposition 8 uprooted a
California Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage, New
Hampshire would be the first state to legislatively overturn a gay
Lawmakers have said they expect to
debate the issue sometime after the January 10 presidential primary.
Bates' bill would replace the law with
civil unions for any unmarried adults, including relatives, and would
allow anyone to refuse to recognize such unions.
“The rest of the country is
watching,” said Ray Buckley, chairman of the state Democratic
Primary. “What I feel sorry for is the nearly 2,000 couples that
have married here. … These are families sitting on the edge of
their chairs wondering, 'Are we going to be a family next year?'”
Noting that gay couples who have
married under the law would be grandfathered in under the new bill
and remain married, Bates insisted no rights were being taken away.
“This isn't taking rights away from
anybody,” he said. “It's trying to draw a bright line and make a
distinction between [marriage and civil unions].”