A bill that would repeal New
Hampshire's gay marriage law cleared a House committee on Tuesday.
The House Judiciary Committee approved
the bill with an 11 to 6 vote.
If approved, the bill, introduced by
Rep. David Bates, a Republican from Windham, would repeal the state's
gay marriage law. Gay couples already married would remain so, but
going forward the bill would establish civil unions for any two
adults competent to enter into a contract – including relatives.
“The Bates proposal is bad for
freedom and bad for families,” said Craig Stowell, Republican
co-chair of Standing
Up for New Hampshire Families, a group opposed to repeal of the
marriage law. “We did not send lawmakers to Concord to revisit the
marriage law. But a fringe group of lawmakers are squarely focused
on taking away freedom and liberty from their constituents and fellow
In speaking to the Portsmouth
on Monday, Bates said his legislation was needed to rectify a “bad
“I, and many people in New Hampshire,
believe that those who pushed this law in 2009 simply did not have
the right to redefine marriage for our entire society,” he said.
In comments to Citizenlink.com,
Bates suggested that he would have preferred a bill that excluded gay
“While some people may want a
complete restoration of marriage, and also having no civil unions or
anything like mutual beneficiaries, the political reality is I don't
think that's possible at this time,” Bates said. “The bill isn't
perfect – no bill is – but I still think this is a step in the
Jim Splaine, the former lawmaker who
sponsored the marriage legislation, called the effort “crazy.”
“We usually don't take rights away
from people once they've been given to them,” Splaine told the
Portsmouth Herald. “That's not the American way.”
“It's crazy,” he added. “We need
to be focused on jobs and restoring the economy.”
Lawmakers approved the marriage
equality law in 2009 when Democrats controlled both chambers of the
state Legislature and the governor's mansion. Republicans last year
wrested control of the Legislature from Democrats.
A poll released last week shows little
support for repealing the law.
Granite State poll from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center
found that only 27 percent of 500 randomly selected adults reached by
telephone support repealing the law, while 50 percent are strongly
opposed to repeal.
The full House is expected to vote on
the law when it convenes in January.