What were they thinking?
Over breakfast at a Dupont Circle yogurt store last Friday, a childhood friend and I repeatedly asked ourselves this question about a bill that would have repealed New Hampshire's marriage equality law. Other reactions to lawmakers in our home state who backed House Bill 437 contain certain expletives that are unsuitable for publication. "Embarrassing" is a more than applicable adjective to use to describe this attempt to disenfranchise gays and lesbians in the Granite State.
H.B. 437 proponents once again made the same ridiculous arguments about how marriage equality for same-sex couples would lead to polygamy, incest, and even bestiality. State Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R-Salem) stressed that the repeal of her state's marriage equality law would somehow bolster New Hampshire's families and society at large. In a desperate, last-ditch effort to defend his overtly discriminatory measure, the bill's sponsor, state Rep. David Bates (R-Windham), even railed against the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Lawrence v. Texas ruling, which struck down the country's remaining anti-sodomy laws in 2003.
The majority of his colleagues thankfully rejected this homophobic rhetoric: on March 21 the New Hampshire House soundly rejected the measure by a 211-to-116 margin.
"This body has set forth a ping pong ball on people's lives," noted state Rep. Jennifer Coffey (R-Andover), before she and 99 other Republicans and 111 Democrats voted against H.B. 437.
A WMUR/University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll in February found that 59 percent of Granite Staters opposed H.B. 437. A similar survey conducted last October indicated that 44 percent of New Hampshire voters would consider voting against a candidate who backed efforts to repeal their state's marriage equality law.
There is a certain sense of pride that comes with telling people that I am from a state whose motto is "Live Free or Die." It embodies the libertarian ideals of limited government and personal freedom upon which the very ideals that make New Hampshire so unique were built. Bates and other H.B. 437 supporters attempted to carelessly toss this honorable tradition aside at the expense of nearly 2,000 loving and committed same-sex couples who have taken advantage of the state's marriage equality law since it took effect in January 2010. This shameful effort remains nothing more than a desperate attempt to advance a radical agenda that is increasingly out of touch with the majority of New Hampshire residents.
The fair-minded legislators who rejected H.B. 437 have once again made this New Hampshire native proud of his home state.