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Planned vote to repeal same-sex marriage in New Hampshire delayed

Staff Reports

CONCORD, N.H. — Republican House leaders have delayed the vote on the repeal of New Hampshire‘s same-sex marriage law, said House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, (R-Salem), in an e-mail to the media Tuesday afternoon.

“We must deal with some critical financial and economic-related legislation first, as well as legislative redistricting, prior to any discussion of gay marriage,” he said. “It’s critical to keep to keep legislative priorities in their proper order. The legislation [The Repeal Bill] will not be considered for a floor vote until February.”

Bettencourt had previously indicated in late December that the House would most likely vote on the issue Jan. 11 or today.

Legislative sources said Wednesday that the bill was not listed on the House legislative agenda, however, one lawmaker told a New Hampshire newspaper that she had been ready to vote today to oppose a repeal of the state’s same-sex marriage law.

State Rep. Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth, confirmed that the measure did not appear on the House calendar, but lawmakers were expected to cast their votes Wednesday, she said. According to the House Majority leader, the vote on House Bill 437 was never formally scheduled, claiming that he was only speculating as the House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, is in charge of the House calendar.

But Pantelakos, a lawmaker in the House for 34 years, said that was news to her. “I was definitely looking to vote on it today,” she said.

The bill’s lead sponsor is Rep. David Bates, R-Windham. Bates said yesterday there was never any plan to debate his legislation today. The top priority today is a legislative redistricting bill, he said.

Although the vote on gay marriage will occur in February, the overall focus has not changed, Bettencourt said.

“Today, our citizens are most concerned about pocketbook issues like taxes, controlled spending, job creation and creating a business-friendly environment, and that is where we intend to remain focused,” he said.

More than 1,800 gay couples have gotten married in New Hampshire since the same-sex law took effect two years ago, according to the state Division of Vital Records.

Pantelakos said she has received many emails from constituents who say the law should remain in place.

“It’s an issue we don’t ever need to be dealing with,” she said. “Our Constitution, it says we are all equal, so why shouldn’t they be allowed to marry?” Pantelakos said.

More than 1,800 gay couples have gotten married in New Hampshire since the same-sex law took effect two years ago, according to the state Division of Vital Records.

The state’s Democratic Governor John Lynch, has promised to veto the same-sex marriage repeal bill.

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