Setback for New Hampshire Gay Marriage Bill

Haven’t seen too many comments on the New Hampshire gay marriage bill, so decided to give an update…

The bill was originally proposed in the House of Representatives and voted down 177-189. But there was a discussion and re-vote right after, and a few hours later it was passed 186-179. It then passed throught the Senate 13-11… One senator who had been opposed to the bill changed her stance on the issue and voted yes, resulting in its passage. Senate had made some amendments, which the House agreed to, 178-167.
Bill history on General Court’s (New Hampshire Legislature’s) website

It went on to the governor, who has always said he has believed the term marriage should be reserved to “one man and one woman.” But when this bill came to him, he said that “as Governor of New Hampshire, I recognize that I have a responsibility to consider this issue through a broader lens” and said he would support the bill, but only if provisions were added that would protect religious institutions and non-profit organizations.
Governor’s statement on gay marriage on the governor’s website
(Many people aren’t too happy about this “flip-flop.” In his statement he also noted that “At its core, HB 436 [the gay marriage bill] simply changes the term ‘civil union’ to ‘civil marriage.’ Given the cultural, historical and religious significance of the word marriage, this is a meaningful change.”

Yesterday morning (May 20th) the Senate passed the bill with his changes along party lines, 14-10. (Democrats for, Republicans against). It went on to the House of Representatives in the afternoon… And was rejected 186-188! The bill was not killed, but sent to a committee that will try to make a compromise between the House and Senate. So it might return in this session. The governor has said he will veto anything less than what he has demanded.

New Hampshire Union Leader article on the House’s vote

Sadly it will come back for another vote so it is not over yet If the compromise does pass in NH, the only way gay marriage could be rescinded would be through a constitutional amendment change which would require an OK of 3/5 of both house and senate to even put it on the ballot for a public vote.

Maine is I believe the only referendum state in NE which means they will be able to put it on the ballot through an initiative once they collect signatures similar to what California did.

Maine drafts ballot question…

fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090520/NEWS0104/905209888

Yes… :frowning: But yesterday’s result could have been worse!
Of course, even if it fails this year, it will probably come up again next year with the same General Court (legislature) and governor.

If the compromise does pass in NH, the only way gay marriage could be rescinded would be through a constitutional amendment change which would require an OK of 3/5 of both house and senate to even put it on the ballot for a public vote.

Just curious… Why is that? I haven’t heard this. :shrug:

If the compromise does pass in NH, the only way gay marriage could be rescinded would be through a constitutional amendment change which would require an OK of 3/5 of both house and senate to even put it on the ballot for a public vote.

In the constitution of each state, it states how initiatives are placed on the ballot. The referendum states such as CA and ME and a number of the Western states have it written into their constitutions that they can do it - 1nd by initiative by the people and 2nd by a constitutional change.

In MA it is only allowed by referendum done though legislature vote(constitutional convention). This is what has been going in MA. Two or three times, a certain number of signatures have been collected but the legislation in MA has to allow a referendum on the ballot to approve this change to the constitution and it has to be approved in two consecutive sessions. It failed the 1st time when the legislature wouldn’t even vote on it. Then the second time it passed when Mitt Romney helped to persuade the legislature to pass it. He left to run for president. The third time, they thought they had the legislature vote in the second consecutive session and Gov. Deval Patrick used his power to defeat it so they couldn’t get it OK’d. They now have to wait until 2012 to try to do it again.(constitutional convention)

Just curious… Why is that? I haven’t heard this.

They don’t talk about it but the laws in each state are different. Call the House clerk and they will explain it.

From your description, it sounds as if Massachusetts and Iowa are similar inn their requirements. And here is a recent news article which confirms what you say about New Hampshire:

In the past, social conservatives have proposed to ask voters to amend the state Constitution to outlaw marriage between gay and lesbian couples.

The voters can change the Constitution if they support a proposal by a two-thirds majority. But amendments first require a three-fifths majority vote in the House and the State Senate and that’s not likely given the support for same-sex marriage among lawmakers.

nashuatelegraph.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090521/NEWSBLOG/905219777/-1/XML15

You two are correct about the process by which a constitutional amendment is passed in New Hampshire. It is explained in Part II Article 100 of the New Hampshire constitution:

nh.gov/constitution/oaths.html

Basically, there are two types of state law in New Hampshire: constitutional law and statutory law. To change the constitution, an amendment is required. As has been mentioned, this requires the support of two-thirds of both houses of the General Court and two-thirds of the voters’ support.

A statutory law, on the other hand, can be changed by a simple majority of the legislature.

The New Hampshire constitution currently does not talk about marriage. As was mentioned above, there have been several attempts to get a constitutional amendment defining it as between one man and one woman, but they have failed in the General Court. All marriage laws in New Hampshire are statutory laws and can be amended, repealed, or created by a simple majority in both houses of the legislature.

The gay marriage legislation currently in consideration amends some of these statutes. It does not amend the constitution.

Marriage is defined by statute. The General Court is attempting to change the statute by simple majority. As far as I am aware, it can be changed back by simple majority in the future.

What I was trying to ask was: In what article of the state constitution, statute of state law, or other source did you read that a statute legalizing gay marriage would require a constitutional amendment to be repealed?

Error…

Massachusetts collected signatures I believe 3 or 4 times to put it on the ballot for a vote but it has been before the legislature 4 times.

  1. It was not allowed to come to the floor under Travalini.

  2. State rallies were sponsored(Laurie Letourneau) and it came before the legislature with wording alluding instead to civil unions . It got voted down by the legislature.

  3. Mitt Romney’s watch(passed)

  4. Deval Patrick’s watch(voted down)

originally posted by Sapphire_Dragon
The gay marriage legislation currently in consideration amends some of these statutes. It does not amend the constitution.

Marriage is defined by statute. The General Court is attempting to change the statute by simple majority. As far as I am aware, it can be changed back by simple majority in the future.

What I was trying to ask was: In what article of the state constitution, statute of state law, or other source did you read that a statute legalizing gay marriage would require a constitutional amendment to be repealed?

I called the House clerk’s office in NH, Vermont and ME as I was trying to understand what the differences were in each state. The clerk’s office in NH told me that because NH was not an initiative state, it would require 3/5 of a vote of each house to allow it on the ballot in a referendum question. It would need a one time passage in NH by the legislature unlike MA which has to pass it in two consecutive sessions and I am unsure whether MA require 3/5 or 1/2 of the vote. Vermont is similar in that signatures have to be collected and it has to approved by the legislature so that it can put on the ballot for a vote.

Please call the House clerk office and let me know if I understood it correctly.

The clerk’s office in NH told me that because NH was not an initiative state, it would require 3/5 of a vote of each house to allow it on the ballot in a referendum question.

Ah, I see. As far as I know, in New Hampshire the only time voters get to vote directly on a law is on a constitutional amendment… So the only referendums are those related to constitutional amendments, which require the 3/5 vote of each house.

I’ve read in some newspaper articles the last few days that some Republicans are calling for the gay marriage issue to be put to referendum… But the newspapers have commented that it would only be a “poll,” and not be able change the law. I’ve never seen or heard of that sort of thing being done here before… Perhaps those legislators weren’t quite aware of N.H. law. :smiley: Or perhaps they just hoped the results of such a non-binding referendum would stimy gay marriage legislation for a while.

Would be interesting if they put two constitutional amendments on the ballot… One for gay marriage and one against it… Would be more interesting still if both were passed. :rolleyes:

I had been asking about this part of what you said in your first post:
“the only way gay marriage could be rescinded would be through a constitutional amendment change which would require an OK of 3/5 of both house and senate to even put it on the ballot for a public vote.” (emphasis mine)

Since this is a statute issue, I couldn’t see why a constitutional amendment would be needed to overturn a statute. Perhaps I misunderstood and/or it didn’t sound the way you meant? :slight_smile:

In the 2010 general election, all seats in the General Court and the governorship will be up for election (all of these offices have two-years term in N.H.). It’s possible that opponents of this legislation will take the majority and I believe they could “simply” change the statute back to its present form, as easily as the legislature can now change it to legalize gay marriage.

I will look into contacting the house clerk to make sure I’m correct on these points… I’m just a New Hampshire citizen who is very interested in the state government and law. I’m not a trained expert. :slight_smile: …Yet :wink:

A referendum process like Maine’s definitely sounds attractive… In this case, the legislature has been very divided and several key people we voted in thinking they were opposed to gay marriage ended up switching sides… Nevertheless, if it passes it will be said that “the people of New Hampshire have embraced same-sex marriage.” :rolleyes: In Maine it has a chance of getting on the ballot. Here we need to watch the statute change and pray that a future government will overturn it.

The clerk’s office in NH told me that because NH was not an initiative state, it would require 3/5 of a vote of each house to allow it on the ballot in a referendum question.

Ah, I see. As far as I know, in New Hampshire the only time voters get to vote directly on a law is on a constitutional amendment… So the only referendums are those related to constitutional amendments, which require the 3/5 vote of each house.

I’ve read in some newspaper articles the last few days that some Republicans are calling for the gay marriage issue to be put to referendum… But the newspapers have commented that it would only be a “poll,” and not be able change the law. I’ve never seen or heard of that sort of thing being done here before… Perhaps those legislators weren’t quite aware of N.H. law. :smiley: Or perhaps they just hoped the results of such a non-binding referendum would stimy gay marriage legislation for a while.

Would be interesting if they put two constitutional amendments on the ballot… One for gay marriage and one against it… Would be more interesting still if both were passed. :rolleyes:

I had been asking about this part of what you said in your first post:
“the only way gay marriage could be rescinded would be through a constitutional amendment change which would require an OK of 3/5 of both house and senate to even put it on the ballot for a public vote.” (emphasis mine)

Since this is a statute issue, I couldn’t see why a constitutional amendment would be needed to overturn a statute. Perhaps I misunderstood and/or it didn’t sound the way you meant? :slight_smile:

In the 2010 general election, all seats in the General Court and the governorship will be up for election (all of these offices have two-years term in N.H.). It’s possible that opponents of this legislation will take the majority and I believe they could “simply” change the statute back to its present form, as easily as the legislature can now change it to legalize gay marriage.

I will look into contacting the house clerk to make sure I’m correct on these points… I’m just a New Hampshire citizen who is very interested in the state government and law. I’m not a trained expert. :slight_smile: …Yet :wink:

A referendum process like Maine’s definitely sounds attractive… In this case, the legislature has been very divided and several key people we voted in thinking they were opposed to gay marriage ended up switching sides… Nevertheless, if it passes it will be said that “the people of New Hampshire have embraced same-sex marriage.” :rolleyes: In Maine it has a chance of getting on the ballot. Here we need to watch the statute change and pray that a future government will overturn it.

originally posted by Sapphire_Dragon
In the 2010 general election, all seats in the General Court and the governorship will be up for election (all of these offices have two-years term in N.H.). It’s possible that opponents of this legislation will take the majority and I believe they could “simply” change the statute back to its present form, as easily as the legislature can now change it to legalize gay marriage.

When it passed in MA, they thought the same, that persons who voted to keep it would lose their position but the same democrats legislators were all re-elected. There is a great deal of apathy, often money influences the elections and people are more interested in jobs and such so please don’t count on a conservative change if this passes. :(:(:frowning:

Maine and Rhode Island will be seen as the two conservative state.

No, I won’t count on it… :frowning: Not immediately anyway. I think it will hurt their popularity though, but enough to take away control in the next election? We’ll see. That’s a year and a half away, and people have short memories. :smiley:

When I was saying there was a possibility that they could get voted out and a new conservative legislature could overturn their decision, I was just using that as an example to explain how the statutes worked… That, if this legislature passes a statute, there is no need for the difficult amendment process to overturn it: Another legislature could just overturn it with a simple majority of both houses. Wasn’t making a prediction or expressing any expectation. :slight_smile:

Please let me weigh in on this one.

I am a Justice of the Peace here in NH. In that capacity, I am authorized to “solemnize” marriages.
I am also Roman Catholic, and believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. Anything else is “something other than marriage”.
After wrestling with this issue, I’ve made this decision: If JP’s are forced to conduct such ceremonies, I will surrender my Commission as a JP. I don’t need the money so badly that I’d be willing to sell my soul in order to perform a ceremony that is contrary to my own beliefs.
There are many JP’s in this area, and I’ve spoken with several of them who I know to also belong to one major religion or another. We are virtually unanimous in our opinion on this issue, and it’s quite possible that NH will lose a lot of Justices of the Peace if we are ever forced to perform this sort of ceremony.

Mind you, all a JP does is a Civil Ceremony, one that is done to “solemnize” the marriage. Of course, at the right time, it’s nice to be able to turn to the groom and say “You may now kiss the bride”. (To whom would one turn in the event of a same gender ceremony?)

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