As same-sex marriage supporters celebrate victories in Washington and Maryland this month, they are keeping a wary eye on New Hampshire, where lawmakers may soon vote to repeal the state’s two-year-old law allowing gay couples to wed.
A repeal bill appears to have a good chance of passing in the State House and Senate, which are both controlled by Republicans. The bigger question is whether they can muster enough votes to overcome a promised veto from Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat.
Based on party lines, House and Senate Republicans both have veto-proof majorities. But this is an issue where party allegiance gets muddy.
In a state whose “Live Free or Die” motto figures into many a policy decision, even many opponents of same-sex marriage wish the issue would just disappear. Republican lawmakers with libertarian leanings, a sizable group, seem especially unhappy to be facing a repeal vote, as well as those who maintain that cutting spending should be the legislature’s sole concern. Both groups appear worried about a backlash from their constituents.
Representative Andrew Manuse, a Republican, said in an e-mail that he would support a repeal because he objected to government “using its power to redefine a religious, social and societal institution.” But he added, “I really am not focusing on this issue.”
Should the repeal pass, New Hampshire would be the first state in which a legislature has reversed itself on the issue of same-sex marriage. In Maine, voters repealed a marriage law through a referendum in November 2009, shortly after the Legislature approved it. This fall, a ballot initiative will ask voters to make same-sex marriage legal again. The California Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that same-sex couples there had a right to marry, but voters banned same-sex marriage in an initiative later that year. The issue remains in court.
Shortly after 3am police removed around a dozen demonstrators standing on kitchen shelving as a makeshift fortress as other riot officers with shields advanced along the cathedral steps removing protesters, some of whom were praying.
Among those protesters was Jonathan Bartley, director of the Christian thinktank Ekklesia, who claimed he was kicked repeatedly by police and dragged away from the cathedral.
“What happened is a great sadness – it is exactly as Giles Fraser warned might happen,” he said.
“The tragedy is that while Christians were praying on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, the cathedral gave permission for them to be forcibly and violently removed. The cathedral has backed and colluded in this eviction.”
By 4am, no protesters or camping equipment remained in the square.
(Photo: Press Association via the Guardian)