CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire Republican State Representative David Bates on Tuesday led a rally outside the capitol building of more than 200 people interested in repealing New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law and replace it with civil unions for any unmarried adults, including relatives.
Bates, who is the chief sponsor of a measure to repeal the law, told the crowd there is no truth more self-evident under the federal Constitution than men and women were created for each other.
“Other arrangements are unnatural and incapable of sustaining the human species,” Bates said.
Supporters said the proposed repeal bill would not apply to gay marriages that have already occurred, but would stop new ones.
Since 2010, 1,866 New Hampshire gay couples have married, according to the state division of vital records. Repeal opponents say Bates’ bill has conflicting provisions that appear to bar the courts from recognizing same sex relationships as valid, while declaring same sex marriages in effect before the repeal took effect to remain valid.
Bates has said he is working on an amendment to clarify that and several other issues. Republican House Speaker William O’Brien called the gay marriage law an attack on the family that must be reversed.Associated Press, via The Boston Globe
Bishop Gene Robinson — the Episcopal Church‘s first openly gay bishop, and a resident of the state — observed, “I’m surprised at how small the crowd is.”
Robinson also indicated that he had not heard of any clergy suffering an ill effect because of the law or that any individuals suffered ill effects, and said New Hampshire polls show a majority oppose repealing the law.
The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature has not scheduled a date for Bates’ measure to be voted on in this year’s session, and Gov. John Lynch (D) has repeatedly warned lawmakers he will veto attempts to repeal the law, which he signed in 2009.
Bates’ bill would not enact the same civil unions law that was in effect before gays were allowed to marry. That law granted gays all the rights and responsibilities of marriage except in name.
Under Bates’ proposed civil unions law, any two adults could enter into a union, any person or group would be able to refuse to recognize the unions.
It also would allow anyone to discriminate against the couples in employment, housing and public accommodations based on religious or moral beliefs.
Bates has also launched a direct mail campaign using personal funds to garner support for his bill.