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N.H. House committee votes to overturn marriage equality

The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday in favor of repealing the Granite State’s 15-month marriage-equality law, according to the Associated Press.

In an 11 to 6 vote, the committee approved House Bill 437, which would ban same-sex marriage and instead offer a form of civil unions for any unmarried adults. The committee rejected a second proposed bill that would just repeal gay marriage without offering any legal benefits for unmarried couples.

State Rep. David Bates (R-Windham), sponsored HB437 and said the legislation would not apply to currently married gay couples, which has amounted to approximately 1,500, according to AP.

Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, a pro-marriage-equality coalition that comprises Democrats, Republicans, citizens, business owners and civic leaders, released a statement following the House committee’s decision.

“The Bates proposal is bad for freedom and bad for families,” said Craig Stowell, Republican co-chair of Standing Up for New Hampshire Families. “We did not send lawmakers to Concord to revisit the marriage law,” said Stowell, a former Marine. “But a fringe group of lawmakers are squarely focused on taking away freedom and liberty from their constituents and fellow Granite Staters.”

From the proposed legislation:

The vast majority of children are conceived by acts of passion between men and women – sometimes unintentionally. Because of this biological reality, New Hampshire has a unique, distinct, and compelling interest in promoting stable and committed marital unions between opposite-sex couples so as to increase the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by both of their natural parents. No other domestic relationship presents the same level of state interest.

The bill notes that “no man shall marry his mother, father’s sister, mother’s sister, daughter, sister, son’s daughter, daughter’s daughter, brother’s daughter, sister’s daughter, father’s brother’s daughter, mother’s brother’s daughter, father’s sister’s daughter, mother’s sister’s daughter, or any other man.” The same rule would apply (genders reversed) to women.

However, there is an age discrepancy when it comes to New Hampshire’s marriage law: Women can be as young as 13 to become legally married, but men have to wait until they are 14.

The repeal bill is expected to go before a vote in the House early next year. Even if it has enough votes to move on to the state Senate, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch has promised to veto the bill, reports AP. Lynch signed the marriage-equality bill in 2009 and the civil-unions bill it replaced in 2007.

Earlier this month, ahead of the House committee vote on the repeal, the University of New Hampshire Survey Center conducted a poll (PDF), showing 62 percent of Granite Staters oppose repealing the same-sex marriage law (50 percent “strongly oppose” the repeal; 12 percent “somewhat oppose” repeal).

In July the National Organization for Marriage’s former chair Maggie Gallagher announced New Hampshire was next on its list of marriage equality states to target. NOM registered the domain name www.nhformarriage.com in October 2010, according to the domain name registrar GoDaddy.com.

On the website, New Hampshire for Marriage states its goal “is to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage law by turning the tide against out-of-state special interest money that fueled its passage and corrupted our political and legislative process.”

The blog Good As You this week discovered that NOM has spliced and misrepresented pictures of a packed Obama rally from 2008 to make it look like NOM attracted 60,000 supporters at a rally. The picture appears on the homepage (in a section labeled “Who We Are”).

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