A man whose nomination to the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission by Gov. Craig Benson has been challenged by members of the Executive Council says he won't withdraw his name. Gary Daniels, a former state legislator whose views on homosexuality have been questioned by council members, said his views are being misrepresented. The council votes on his nomination Wednesday. "I don't think anybody should be discriminated against, and I don't feel that I discriminated against anybody," Daniels said. "This debate was about policy, not people."
While he was a state representative, Daniels, a Republican, opposed a 1997 bill that expanded the state's civil rights law 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.
The bill also added a sentence to the law outlining the Human Rights Commission's purpose: "The agencies and councils so created shall exercise their authority to assure that no person be discriminated against on account of sexual orientation." Daniels said he was especially upset by media reports that described him, during that 1997 debate, as calling homosexuality unnatural, immoral, and unhealthy.
According to a transcript of his 1997 remarks, which Daniels provided to The [Manchester] Union Leader, he argued that protecting homosexuality along with characteristics such as race would undercut the government's "message" related to stabilizing the traditional family and preventing the spread of AIDS: "This bill seeks to raise the protection of homosexual and bisexual behavior to the same constitutional level as race, color, creed, age, and sex, characteristics over which we have no control. Simply put, it seeks to disrupt the natural order of things. If we are truly to fix the problems that we profess that we are here to resolve, we need to start looking at the actions we take and their impact upon the problems yet to be resolved. The new set of ideas proposed by HB421 creates a new set of problems, disruptions that I don't believe are acceptable or wanted in today's society."
"I don't believe in discrimination," Daniels told The Union Leader. "I opposed the bill because I thought the discrimination statutes were sufficient." Daniels also said that he would not deal with any commission business involving sexual orientation, a condition he said would not affect his duties as a commissioner.