As New Hampshire Governor John Lynch
becomes the final arbiter of a gay marriage bill legislators approved
this week, groups on both sides of the issue are hard at work
lobbying the Democrat.
House members gave Rep. Jim Splaine's
gay marriage bill its final OK on Wednesday, paving the way for it to
land on Lynch's desk. (A process that might take up to a week in New
Last month, Vermont lawmakers stunned
the nation when they legalized gay marriage over the objections of
Governor Jim Douglas, becoming the first state to do so
legislatively, instead of by court order.
Overriding a Lynch veto, however, does
not appear to be in the cards for New Hampshire, where both chambers
of the Legislature barely scratched up a majority.
The governor has stated in the past
that he favors civil unions over marriage for gay and lesbian
couples. Lawmakers approved civil unions for gay couples in 2007.
Lynch, however, has kept mum on whether
he'll become the second governor after Maine's John Baldacci to sign
a gay marriage bill or veto it.
In a newly launched ad by the National
Organization for Marriage (NOM), opponents say Lynch should keep his
“For three elections, Governor Lynch
has asked for our trust. He's repeatedly promised voters that he
opposes gay marriage even when signing New Hampshire's civil union
bill into law,” a male announcer says. “It's time for the
governor to keep his word. Call governor Lynch to veto the same-sex
marriage bill. Because in New Hampshire, keeping our word matters.”
“The people of New Hampshire are not
clamoring for same-sex marriage,” said Brian Brown, executive
director of NOM, in a statement announcing the new ad. “This is a
divisive and polarizing effort driven by the need to play to the
Democrats' donor base, not the will of the people. How much of a
role did out-of-state money, and national pressure play in getting
New Hampshire politicians to ignore the voters? It's a legitimate
question people are asking.”
Gay activists are pressuring the
governor as well. The New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition is
sponsoring gay marriage rallies in three cities – Concord,
Portsmouth and Hanover – on Saturday, and have prepared a new ad
that urges the governor to sign the bill.
“Governor Lynch has an opportunity to
protect all New Hampshire families and treat every committed couple
equally,” a female voice says. “Call our governor and urge him
to support civil marriage for all Granite Staters.”
Both camps have also delivered
thousands of petitions to the governor's office on the issue.
In New Hampshire, gay marriage is in
the hands of Lynch. He'll have five days to decide once the bill
lands on his desk. He may choose to sign the bill into law, veto it,
or allow it to become law without his signature. Either way, the
popular governor appears to be politically safe.
“He's not in a position where it
matters to him electorally,” Andy Smith, director of the University
of New Hampshire Survey Center, told Seacoast Online. “He's
got a 70-percent approval rating. He can say whatever. … If he
signs it, the Republicans will gripe, but they have never been able
to field a credible candidate against him. If he vetoes it, the
Democrats are still going to vote for him [in 2010].”