The outcome of the gubernatorial race in New Hampshire could be crucial in determining the fate of marriage equality in the state, which was the first to have a governor sign it without it being taken away through referendum.
A victory for the GOP candidate, attorney Ovide Lamontagne, would likely mean Republicans in the state legislature would only need a majority vote to repeal marriage rights for gay couples. Previously, they needed a supermajority to override the veto of Democrat Gov. John Lynch as they would if the Democrat seeking to replace him, former State Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan, wins the governor’s race.
Ray Buckley, who’s gay and chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said the gubernatorial contest is the prime focus in New Hampshire for Democrats because they’re unlikely to regain a majority in the legislature after Republicans won a supermajority following the 2010 election.
“Simply put, marriage is at stake,” Buckley said. “The priority here really has to be the governor’s office, and if there’s one candidate in New Hampshire that is more extreme than Ovide Lamontagne when it comes to social issues — whether reproductive issues or marriage equality — I’ve never heard of him. He is a far-right zealot and he would actively work towards repealing the law. All they would need is a one-vote victory in both chambers.”
At the start of this year, LGBT advocates feared that the Republican supermajority would muster enough votes to override a veto of a measure to repeal the same-sex marriage law, which was signed by Gov. John Lynch in 2009. But lawmakers didn’t even send the bill to the governor. In March, the New Hampshire House rejected a measure to repeal marriage equality by a vote of 211-116. Still, many political observers say lawmakers did so because they didn’t believe they had enough have votes to overcome the governor’s veto and would revisit the issue if they only needed a bare majority to repeal it.
The gubernatorial candidates have offered distinct views on marriage equality over the course of their campaigns, although the degree to which Lamontagne would push for repeal of same-sex marriage remains uncertain.
Hassan’s support for marriage equality can be found on her website, where she touts her leadership in passing the legislation in 2009 before she ultimately lost her seat to a Republican in 2010. Marc Goldberg, a Hassan spokesperson, assured the Blade via email she would veto any measure to repeal same-sex marriage.