MARRIAGE DIGEST: N.H. citizens say they want to vote on marriage amendment
Posted on Mar 26, 2010 | by Michael Foust
CONCORD, N.H. (BP)--New Hampshire's legislature may not want voters to have a say on the issue of "gay marriage," but citizens who voted during March town meetings nevertheless made it clear they want a constitutional marriage amendment on the ballot.
Of the 92 towns that voted on the issue, 64 percent of them agreed to a resolution stating that "citizens of New Hampshire should be allowed to vote on an amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution that defines 'marriage.'" The votes were non-binding but still give an idea of the mood of the electorate on the controversial issue.
New Hampshire's Democratic legislature passed a bill last year legalizing "gay marriage" -- it was signed by Democratic Gov. John Lynch -- but has turned back efforts to put a constitutional marriage amendment on the ballot. Such an amendment must originate in the legislature.
The effort to put the issue on the agenda of town meetings was organized by state Rep. David Bates.
"Many, many thousands, tens of thousands of people disagree with the definition of 'marriage' being redefined," Bates, a Republican, told The Citizen newspaper in Laconia, N.H. "... The issue here is we as a society have been compelled now to recognize a relationship that most people, just by the plain definition of the word, do not believe is what marriage is."
Supporters of "gay marriage," though, have rejected the notion that people are demanding a vote. They point to the towns that tabled the measure and chose not to vote. All total, 59 towns passed the resolution, 33 defeated it, and 33 tabled it. Opponents of "gay marriage" disagree with that argument and note that liberal groups such as New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition and Granite State Progress worked hard to keep the issue off town agendas.
"They deliberately ignore the fact that the Article passed by an overwhelming majority of the citizens who actually voted on it," a blog post at LetNHVote.com, where the results are posted, reads.
The fact that state law does not allow citizens to gather petitions and place a constitutional amendment on the ballot has been particularly frustrating for the law's opponents, who watched voters in border state Maine overturn a "gay marriage" law last year. "Gay marriage" has been rejected in all 31 states where it has been placed on the ballot.
Conservatives in the state believe their only hope to get an amendment on the ballot may be to flip the House and Senate from Democrat to Republican. Every House and Senate seat will be on the ballot in November. "Gay marriage" did not become law until Democrats won back the House and Senate in 2006.
PROP 8 TRIAL SLOWS DOWN -- The federal trial over California's constitutional marriage amendment has slowed down significantly as both sides battle over whether opponents of the amendment -- known as Prop 8 -- should have to release internal documents from the 2008 campaign.
Supporters of Prop 8 were forced earlier this year to release some but not all of their internal documents from the '08 campaign, and they subsequently argued in court that the other side -- consisting partially of the ACLU and Equality California -- should have to release some of their documents as well. A federal magistrate agreed, saying the ACLU and Equality California should release their '08 documents, and federal Judge Vaughn Walker upheld the magistrate's decision. But the ACLU and Equality California are appealing Walker's ruling.
The trial before Walker took place in January but closing arguments have yet to be scheduled. The trial could impact not only California but every other state that has passed an amendment prohibiting "gay marriage."
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.