Council opposes New Hampshire governor's nominee

BY Advocate.com Editors

March 04 2003 1:00 AM ET

The New Hampshire executive council now is decisively against Gov. Craig Benson's nomination of a former state legislator to the Human Rights Commission, but Benson is asking councillors to take more time to think about their opposition. Previously councillors Peter Spaulding and Raymond Burton sent a letter to Benson, asking that he withdraw his nomination of Gary Daniels to the commission because, as a legislator, Daniels made antigay comments during a debate on a civil rights bill six years ago. Now Councillor Ruth Griffin says she won't vote for Daniels. "The man has made a determination against a single segment of society, and I can't support that," Griffin said. With Griffin's decision, Benson does not have the necessary votes to win confirmation. The seven-member Human Rights Commission handles complaints filed under the state's civil rights law. Benson has not said whether he will withdraw Daniels's nomination.

Spokeswoman Kelly Ayotte said Benson would prefer that councillors think about the nomination for the next few days, before it is scheduled to vote on Daniels. "The governor hopes that the council will consider Chairman John Coughlin's letter over the weekend in considering the nomination of Gary Daniels," she said.

Coughlin, a Republican, supports Daniels. Daniels has promised Coughlin that he would not get involved in commission matters that pertain to gay men and lesbians. He also has said his personal views would not color the decisions he would make as a member of the commission. While he was a state representative, Daniels, a Republican, opposed a 1997 bill that expanded the state's civil rights to include gays and lesbians. The bill, which passed the legislature and was signed into law by Democratic
governor Jeanne Shaheen, banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment and housing matters and with regard to public accommodations, such as restaurants and hotels. During the debate Daniels said the state's definition of sexual orientation was inadequate and that homosexuality is unnatural, immoral, and unhealthy.

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