Are Republicans Ready to Overturn Marriage in New Hampshire?



Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire advanced an effort Wednesday to repeal marriage equality in their state, perhaps signaling they're prepping for a veto fight with the state's Democratic governor.

A House Judiciary subcommittee voted 3-1 to amend a bill that had originally banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions, House spokeswoman Shannon Shutts told Reuters. Now the bill is more narrowly focused on defining marriage. Options such as civil unions and domestic partnerships usually have even broader public support, which could have complicated Republicans' efforts.

Gov. John Lynch signed marriage equality legislation in 2009 after it narrowly passed through the legislature, and he has promised to veto any effort to repeal the law. But Lynch has recently seen one of his vetoes overridden, on abortion limits for minors, and Republicans could try again with same-sex marriage. Their numbers grew after the 2010 wave election.

Upping the ante on the politics of turning same-sex marriage into an issue is the announcement today from Lynch that he will not run for reelection in 2012 (after holding the office for four consecutive terms). And that state is an early decider in the Republican primary season, which helps raise the national profile of state issues.

A previous effort in early 2010 to send voters a measure on a same-sex marriage ban failed in the legislature. And Republican Party leaders eventually began to eye 2012 as the right time to make a try legislatively.

Support for marriage equality has grown since it passed in March of 2009. At that time, 55% of New Hampshire voters expressed support in a Freedom to Marry survey. But the most recent poll, in February from WMUR, shows 64% said they want to preserve marriage rights for gay couples. 

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