Mehlman Urges N.H. Republicans to Keep Marriage Equality

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com January 26 2012 1:35 PM ET

Following his work to help pass the marriage equality law in New York, former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman is taking his conservative argument for same-sex marriage to New Hampshire, where lawmakers are considering a bill that would repeal the marriage equality law.

In an op-ed published Thursday in the Union Leader, Mehlman made the case for marriage equality based on the core Republican principles of individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He said that marriage equality is consistent with “family values” and the New Hampshire state motto of “Live Free or Die.”

“The party of Lincoln and Reagan should stand first and foremost for freedom,” he wrote. “It’s part of our heritage and ought to be part of our DNA. Freedom for Americans of all races is why our party was founded. And our greatest moments — from the unbelievable economic recovery unleashed by lower taxes and less regulation to the fall of the Berlin Wall — resulted when we promoted freedom.

“Stripping away the right of adults in New Hampshire to marry the person they love is antithetical to freedom,” he continued. “If we really believe (and we should) that every citizen is endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness, shouldn’t this include the right to marriage? If we believe in limited government, how can we justify expanding the authority of the state to take away this most personal, fundamental right? Aren’t politicians already too involved in too much of our lives? Why would we want to expand government to such a personal space?”

Mehlman said he would be in New Hampshire this week to lobby Republican lawmakers to oppose a same-sex marriage repeal effort in the House. The measure, which Democratic governor John Lynch has promised to veto, would replace same-sex marriages with civil unions for any unmarried adults, including relatives. Individuals would be allowed not to recognize civil unions.

According to the Nashua Telegraph, nearly 2,000 same-sex couples have married in New Hampshire since the law was enacted in 2009. An October poll from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center showed that 62% of state voters opposed the repeal bill, and 27% supported it.

Mehlman managed the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in 2004, which included a strategy of putting anti–marriage equality constitutional amendments on the ballot in 11 states to draw conservative voters to the polls. He came out in 2010 and joined the board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is sponsoring the legal challenge to California’s Proposition 8.

Last year Mehlman presented conservative arguments to lobby Republican lawmakers in New York to support the marriage equality bill. The bill passed the Republican-controlled Senate by a vote of 33-29 with support from four GOP senators. Mehlman also encouraged Republican donors such as hedge-fund manager Paul Singer to contribute more than $1 million to the campaign in the state.