In last week's discussion of the midterm elections, their ramifications for the nation and what they may or may not reveal about the imaginary psyche of some mythical Average American, some things got lost. Small things. But things that are of a lifetime worth of importance to those whom they affect.
Here in New Hampshire, both U.S. House seats went over to Republicans and the GOP retained their Senate seat as well, but that's not an earth-shaking change, at least as far as my view of the Granite State goes. What is of far more significance is what is far more local: the Republican Party won super-majorities in both houses of the New Hampshire State House. Should that surprise anyone? Probably not, and it has been almost completely unremarked upon in the national media. Why should I call attention to it now? Well, because they are coming for me.
Over a year ago, my partner, Michael, and I set January 15, 2011 as a date for us to get married. We wanted to take a leisurely run up to the big event. We wanted to let the idea of marriage equality sink in for us and for others. We wanted to make sure that we had time to plan everything from the guest list to the menus to the venues to the flowers. We wanted to get the right invitations. We wanted to savor the ability to marry, something that had been denied us the first 12 years of our relationship. Ah, dreams.
And then came Tuesday. I don't know how many people have ever had to consult with their state senator about their wedding date, but now Michael and I have enjoyed that shamefully elite club. This weekend we emailed with our senator, and one of the few remaining elected New Hampshire Democrats, the very courageous Matthew Houde. Today he tried to reassure us that since January 15 is only two weeks into the new legislative session, that chances of getting a repeal of the same-sex marriage law through are virtually nil. Senator Houde is probably right, but that is little comfort.
We know that, at some point, the New Hampshire legislature will come for us, and we have to make contingency plans. We know a New Hampshire marriage license is valid for 90 days, so we will soon pick ours up so we can have it in hand should the need arise to wed in advance of the Republican tide. We busy finding contingency officiants, just so we can be sure to have one around should that need arise. In this way, we have gone from planning a traditional wedding, to scrambling around to prepare for a shotgun one.
The ironies are deep. I don't think social conservatives have thought through the premise that repealing same-sex marriage in this state might increase -- at least in the shirt run -- the number of people who are willing to take that commitment. They might bring out the metaphorical shotgun, but it drives some of us to the altar, rather than away from it. I don't think that those claiming to fiscal conservatives thought the question through either. If these elections were about jobs and the economy, what sense does it make to prevent people from freely pumping thousands of dollars into it? If this election was about reigning in government spending,, perhaps they might want to consider the cost the state will surely incur defending itself from the various lawsuits that will surely follow a repeal.
Let's hope I am just paranoid. Let's hope that in the Live Free or Die State, "living free" means letting same-sex marriage stay on the books. Let's not change the motto to "Live My Way or Die." Shotgun weddings are supposed to preserve "honor." The ones the repeal of same-sex marriage will engender won't be honorable for anyone. If marriage, as my conservative friends tell me, is a sacred institution and must be protected, then the repeal of marriage equality is one of the most serious examples of politicizing marriage that we have ever seen. A moral imperative isn't defended at the end of a shotgun, but that's how revolutions begin.
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