CONCORD, N.H. — As the 2012 session of the New Hampshire legislature looms, most political observers agree that the top issue for at least GOP lawmakers is repealing the state’s same-sex marriage law.
The legislature convenes Jan. 4, however lawmakers might not vote on the marriage repeal until after the Jan. 10 presidential primary, instead taking up a handful of vetoed bills held over from the previous session, reported the Associated Press.
According to House GOP majority leader D.J. Bettencourt (R-Salem), the House most likely won’t cast its votes until Jan. 11, and possibly delay action until Jan. 18.
Bettencourt says the presidential candidates should have the spotlight until after the primary.
“The presidential candidates have a hard enough time getting their message out. This is the time for them to shine. We want them to get all the attention possible,” said Bettencourt.
Both sides of the same-sex marriage debate expect the Republican-controlled House to pass the bill that would replace the law legalizing same-sex marriage with civil unions for any unmarried adults, including relatives. The measure would allow anyone to refuse to recognize civil unions.
The Republican-controlled Senate also is expected to support repealing gay marriage, but Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley said he can’t predict if there will be the votes needed to override a veto.
Democratic Gov. John Lynch promises to veto the bill if it reaches him.Associated Press, via The Boston Globe
New Hampshire enacted civil unions in 2007 for same-sex couples and two years later replaced that law with the marriage law. Lynch also signed the civil unions law.
New Hampshire is currently one of only six states, along with the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal — New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, and Vermont are the remaining five states. Thirty-one other states have passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.