“We believe the governor had it right the first time. A gay marriage law is unnecessary in a state that recognizes the civil union of same-sex couples.... The governor would have been better advised to stand his ground – to veto the gay marriage bill as it was initially proposed.”
Nashua Telegraph Editorial, 5/21
Governor Will Regret Gay Marriage Flip-Flop
May 21, 2009
The New Hampshire Legislature added to the confusion surrounding gay marriage legislation on Wednesday by failing to approve changes demanded by the governor.
By a vote of 188-186, the House refused to add the protections for religious institutions demanded by Gov. John Lynch as a condition of his signature.
It wasn't immediately clear whether lawmakers who previously voted for the bill changed their minds about gay marriage, did not want to make the changes demanded by the governor, or did not like the compromise that emerged from the Senate.
Whatever the case, Lynch now finds himself in a lose-lose situation with gay marriage opponents.
If the bill is ultimately modified to his satisfaction, and he signs as promised, they will most certainly feel betrayed.
If he vetoes the bill, he will alienate much of his Democratic base and still incur the wrath of conservative voters who will never forget that he stood ready to sign it.
In fairness to the governor, he never said he would veto a gay marriage bill should one cross his desk. However, he left little room for doubt about his position: Marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and the civil union legislation on the books in New Hampshire is adequate to provide equal protection under the law to same-sex couples.
We believe the governor had it right the first time. A gay marriage law is unnecessary in a state that recognizes the civil union of same-sex couples. The energy of gay rights advocates and their supporters in the state Legislature should be directed toward ensuring that same-sex couples in civil unions truly do enjoy the same rights and protections as marriage.
The governor would have been better advised to stand his ground – to veto the gay marriage bill as it was initially proposed, while pledging to work harder than ever to ensure that the legal actions of the New Hampshire Legislature are respected in the other 49 states and by the federal government as the Constitution intended.
Instead, he has provided powerful political ammunition to those who oppose any legal recognition for same-sex couples, whether through marriage or civil union.