A house panel in the
New Hampshire legislature reached 10-10 votes on Wednesday on
both a marriage-equality bill and a bill to ban discrimination
against transgender people. The deadlock vote means that each
bill will go straight to the full house for debate without a
recommendation from the judiciary committee.
Opponents of the bill
that would ban gender identity-based discrimination are calling
it the "bathroom bill," as they argue that it would
eradicate the need for gender-specific bathrooms.
Republican Nancy Elliott said that passage of the bill
would enable predators and stalkers to easily walk into
women's bathrooms and locker rooms, according to the
"I ask you, Who's more vulnerable than women and
children?" she said, going on to describe women's
restrooms as refuges for breast-feeding or to have a moment to
cry. "We've got women in there with their pants down,
and there's men in there," she added.
Republican Robert Rowe said that the term "gender
identity" is too loosely defined, giving leeway to men to
simply walk into a "female changing room, or any
Democrat Lucy Weber,
however, took the debate out of the bathroom and discussed the
broader terms of the bill, arguing that it can help
people keep their jobs.
"We had testimony
about people who had had stellar job reviews and job
performance for years and years and years, and who, when they
finally made the choice to act on their gender issues, had been
fired," she said. "[Outcry against the bill gave] me
a deep sympathy for the people who sought protection."
Most Democrats, with
the notable exception of committee chair David Cote, supported
the marriage-equality bill, which also ended in deadlock. After
the vote, Cote said he would rather keep the civil-union policy
that the state legislature passed in 2007.
In a heated debate,
Republican William O'Brien said that allowing same-sex
couples to marry would lead to a slippery slope.
"Why not brothers
being part of marriage?" he said in the
. "Why not animals and men being joined together in
matrimony? Why would we discriminate against those who want to
marry multiple members of the other sex?"
Elliott, who also
opposed the marriage-equality bill, said that marriage was
created by God and is cited in the Bible as being between a man
and a woman. "If we think that we are any different than
past civilizations that have been destroyed over this, then we
deceive ourselves," she said.
Potter, a former minister, countered that old
traditions end for a reason.
"Marriage used to
be a matter of inheritance in the Middle Ages, in order to join
two pieces of land," she told the
"It used to be that a woman belonged to a man and that
concubines were OK. And that certainly was OK in Bible times
We pick and choose what we want to listen to from the