Sunday, January 29, 2012

Libertarian Republicans May Block Marriage Repeal in New Hampshire

One of the announced goals of far right Republicans in New Hampshire has been to repeal that state's same sex marriage law. But despite majorities in both houses of the legislature, they may not be able to gather the 2/3 vote required to repeal the 2009 law. The stumbling block? Libertarian inclined Republicans who see the repeal as a trampling on individual freedom. I would add religious freedom as another victim of the Christianist element in the GOP's jihad against gay marriage. Not surprisingly, some of the cretins in the pro-repeal faction mouth the myth that gay marriage threatens their religious liberty. To these folks, only anti-gay Christians have religious freedom rights. Everyone else can go f*ck themselves per this mindset. The Concord Monitor looks at the uncertain fate of the repeal effort in New Hampshire. Here are excerpts:

While the fate of a bill repealing same-sex marriage in New Hampshire remains uncertain, two facts are not in dispute: Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate. The state Republican Party platform defines marriage as "the legal union between one man and one woman" and opposes "all other forms of civil unions, regardless of where such unions were formed." So what's so hard about getting it done?

Sen. Fenton Groen, a Rochester Republican who has been vocal in his support of the repeal, said last week. "I think that, in the House particularly, we have a significant libertarian caucus within the Republican Party. . . . And there are some Republicans who differ on that within that caucus."

"I'm for liberty and freedom, leaving people alone so long as they don't harm or defraud other people," said Rep. Steve Winter, a Newbury Republican who opposes the repeal. . . . He considers himself a "fiscal conservative and a social libertarian."

Rep. Seth Cohn, a Canterbury Republican who moved here as part of the Free State project, a libertarian movement to relocate to New Hampshire, is also against repeal. Cohn and others believe the bill may pass the House but does not have the two-thirds majority to override a potential veto by Democratic Gov. John Lynch, who signed the bill three years ago legalizing same-sex marriage. "I know for a fact, based on people I've talked to, that if Gov. Lynch vetoes it, that veto is not override-able," Cohn said.

Cohn said he plans to introduce an amendment on the House floor that would take government entirely out of marriage, instead giving all couples a civil union and leaving marriage up to churches and other religious institutions. That same approach is supported by the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, a libertarian-leaning group that endorsed 107 House members elected in 2010.

[U]nwillingness to take up the mantle in opposition to same-sex marriage has extended to top lawmakers in both chambers. . . . . Gay marriage supporters in New Hampshire say the current of public opinion favors their side. A University of New Hampshire survey in October found 62 percent of residents oppose the repeal and 27 percent support it. The rest were neutral.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley also voted against the gay marriage law. But before he could support the repeal bill, he said, language establishing civil unions for same-sex and heterosexual couples must be strengthened so all employers and other entities would be required to recognize them.

Rep. Jennifer Coffey's view has also been colored by life experience. The Andover Republican, a nurse's assistant for 16 years, remembers a terminally ill woman who had been estranged from her family for 20 years because of her relationship with another woman. When the family she hadn't talked to for decades came to visit her in the hospital, they did not allow the woman's partner in the room.

"It really stuck in my mind," she said. "There are certain things you see in health care that break your heart." Still, Coffey - who considers herself a "Goldwater Republican," a "little-'l' libertarian" - voted against the gay marriage law in 2009. Now, she plans to vote against repealing it, but says her position has been consistent all along.

"I voted against government defining marriage," she said. "It doesn't have the right to define marriage in any sense. It is a religious ceremony."

While not addressed in the article, just maybe some in the GOP are waking up to the fact that the GOP's anti-gay positions are driving away both libertarians and the younger generation of voters. Time will tell. Obviously, I hope the repeal effort fails.

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