A key New Hampshire panel has
recommended that the Senate reject two GLBT bills: one that legalizes
gay marriage and a trangender protections bill, reports the Union
The five member Judiciary Committee
voted 3 to 2 Thursday against the gay marriage bill that narrowly
passed the House last month. Committee Chair Deborah Reynolds, a
Democrat, joined the committee's two Republicans, Sheila Roberge of
Bedford and Robert J. Letourneau of Derry, in voting against the
The panel's recommendation does not
bind the full Senate but is likely to influence the bill's final
outcome. Passage in the Democratic-led Senate appeared dim before
the recommendation. Governor John Lynch, a Democrat, has said he
opposes gay marriage but has remained quiet on whether he would veto
the measure should it reach his desk.
Two years ago, lawmakers in the state
approved civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Both the civil
union and gay marriage bill were introduced by openly gay
Representative Jim Splaine, a Democrat.
In voting against the gay marriage
bill, Letourneau and Reynolds both cited civil unions as adequate.
Earlier in the month, the House
reversed itself and approved a transgender protections bill.
Opponents of the measure, Republicans mostly, called it the “bathroom
bill” and asked it be flushed down the drain. House members
agreed, but less than a month later, at the urging of House Speaker
Terie Norelli, a Democrat from Rockingham, they altered course and
passed the bill by the slimmest of margins: 188 to 187.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted
unanimously against the transgender rights bill.
The bill, introduced in January by
openly gay Representative Edward Butler, would protect transgender
people from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and
Opponents paint the bill as
“This seeks to elevate nebulous
groups to the sacred level we find in racial discrimination,” Mount
Vernon Republican William O'Brien said during debate on the House
floor. “This bill is not needed. It's dangerous.”
“This is an invitation, it seems to
me, for people with predatory tendencies to come and hide behind the
fact that they are having a transgender experience,” state Rep.
Peyton Hinkle, a Republican from Merrimack, said.
A public debate on the issue in New
Hampshire is being pushed by the Tony Perkins-led Family Research
Council. The social conservative group ran an advertisement in the
local media threatening lawmakers who vote in favor of the
The ad featured a Post-It
Note scribbled with the words “YOU ARE FIRED,” and urged
residents to contact legislators to vote against gay rights
legislation, including the gay marriage bill and transgender
Committee members listened to three
hours of testimony before voting down the bills.