By Rep. Steve Vaillancourt
If I were an odds maker, I’d say it’s a 50 percent chance that Governor John Lynch lets this become law without his signature, 40 percent chance (and increasing) that he will sign the bill, and only 10 percent that he will veto it. Despite the pressure from my more needlessly agitated Republican colleagues and from out of state special interest money, the Governor can make a valid argument for signing this. Sure, he made that comment about marriage being between a man and a woman in the past, but times change. Since he said that, Vermont and Maine have accepted gay marriage, Vermont by overriding the Governor’s veto (thanks in part to my conservative Republican cousin, Representative Kurt Wright of Burlington) and Maine with the belated support of a Governor who is John Lynch’s friend.
Governor Lynch would actually enhance his status by coming out with an impassioned speech about why he’s changed and now, along with a 55-39 percent margin of NH voters, supports this bill. Change in positions in our history is not unique. Abraham Lincoln’s original intent was for blacks to be moved back to Africa or Central America. Even when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he had no intention of providing blacks with civil or voting rights. Only when he realized he needed blacks to fight in Union armies did he change once again and support not merely ending slavery but providing rights as well.
Change is a good thing when it means more equal treatment for all.
A portrait of the great abolitionist Senator John Parker Hale hangs in Reps Hall. He risked the wrath of Franklin Pierce and his party by opposing the Mexican War. He actually ran for President on the anti-slavery ticket (in 1852 against Pierce as I recall). He was a truly great man, yet listen to this quote from page 210 of the biography “John P. Hale and the Politics of Abolition by Richard H. Sewell” (available at the State Library). Even after the emancipation proclamation, this great liberator was quoted, “I entirely disagree with those who hold that the right of voting is a right which belongs to the catalogue of a man’s natural rights and that it is quite as wrong to withhold that from him as it is to keep him in a state of bondage...If it were a natural right it would belong to women as well as to men (sic), and society in forming its institutions and organizations has a right to withhold it from any person or class o persons who it believes cannot exercise it understandingly and in a manner that will subserve and promote the best interests of society.”
Hale was saying society can prohibit a class of people (blacks, women) from voting. Of course, he was wrong and realized this soon after the quote. President Harry Truman stated, “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”
The great Roman Cicero stated, “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.”
Abraham Lincoln spoke of the need to “wash the cynicism from the body politic.”
John P. Hale was capable of change; Abraham Lincoln was capable of change. John Lynch is capable of change.
John Lynch is neither ignorant nor a child.
John Lynch can help wash the cynicism from the body politics.
In the name of what is better for our society, John Lynch can explain to the world how circumstances have changed; how he no longer believes marriage must be between a man and a woman any more than it had to be between a white man and a white woman as recently as 1965.
Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (proudly, one of the seven Republicans to vote for gay marriage yesterday)