Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Thursday
Mar222012

From Checkpoint Charlie To Sachsenhausen (Plus Hutchenspielers)

 

Hutchenspieler in Berlin

 

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  •      Checkpoint Charlie scenes

                Remember the German word hutchenspiel? 

                I’ve used it on the House floor more than once in the past. 

                Hut is hat; hutchen is little hat; spielen is to play.  Put them all together in the typical German fashion of word creation and you get play the little hat game.

                In English, we call it the old shell game in which a pea is placed under three shells which are moved around so quickly (the hand being quicker than the eye) as to fool someone who gambles on the game.

                When I was living in Berlin, gangs of non-Germans (Auslanders), usually Yugoslavs or Turks at the time I was there...not that there's anything wrong with that, would roam the streets from the Kudamm to Alexanderplatz luring unsuspecting natives and tourists into wasting their money on Hutchenspiel  It was totally illegal, so the players moved from place to place rather quickly to avoid Berlin police.

                As someone who has always enjoyed filming dangerously (I was once thrown out of the Seabrook Greyhound Park parking lot for filming license plates to prove to House members that a majority of patrons there were out of staters), I set about filming the Hutchenspielers from time to time.

                They were never happy, but I managed to catch their illegal game for a few seconds, and I feature the footage on this week’s “The Liberty Express” which airs Thursday at 9 p.m., Sunday at noon, Monday at 10 p.m., and Tuesday at 11 p.m. on Manchestertv23 (always available on line at vimeo.com/channels/libertyx).

                The shell game moments are part of a half hour I call “From Checkpoint Charlie to Sachsenhausen”.

                Checkpoint Charlie, as most will recall, was the crossing point from the American into the Soviet sector of divided Berlin.  I filmed the spot after the wall came down and visited the place 50 or so yards away where, within view of American guards in 1962, a young East German named Peter Fechter, trying to flee to the West, was allowed to bleed to death after being shot by East Berlin vopos (police, Volkspolizei).

                Even more gruesome is Sachsenhausen, the site of a concentration camp in the town of Oranienburg, only 20 or so kilometers north of Berlin.

                From Cold War to Nazi history, we’ll look at some sad spots (with appropriate short historical readings) on this week’s show, and The Hutchespielers are there as well.

                Last week’s Liberty Express is still available on line.  That’s the one featuring 60s satirist Tom Lehrer, and I just heard on the radio that not only is Tom Lehrer still alive, but he’ll be performing in Manchester (some place on Hanover Street) on March 31.

                Wow!

                Next week’s Liberty Express will feature speeches on the gay marriage debate on the floor of the New Hampshire House.  No, I won’t offer the entire debate.  In fact, the speeches will be from only one side.  I’m sure you can guess which one—hey it’s my show; if you want to broadcast the pro repeal side, start your own show.

                The best speech I’ve heard in years was from first term Manchester Republican Rep Cameron DeJong, part of a trio of outstanding new Reps from Ward 2.  Mike Ball and Win Hutchinson also spoke. 

                A new hero for the gay marriage side emerged in the form of West Side Republican Tammy Simmons.  She was fantastic and perhaps even more emotional than I was...not that there's anything wrong with that.  I’ll also feature Bedford Republican Keith Murphy’s remarks and probably my own as well.

                Thus, after the somber wanderings around Berlin this week, next week’s Liberty Express out of studio segment will be a celebration of joy at the progress our society has made.

    Tuesday
    Mar202012

    The Week In Polls--March 20--Gay Marriage Support Growing

                In honor of the vote to repeal gay marriage scheduled for tomorrow in the New Hampshire House, I’ve decided to forego our usual look at polls this week and look at the latest polling data on the subject (expect Romney to win Illinois by 9-12 points; unlike in the South last week, you can rely on the pollsters this week—trust me on this).

                Rather than look at the usual sites (Gallup, Rasmussen, fivethirtyeight.com, pollster.com), I’ve gone to Pollingreport.com, which has all polls conducted on a given subject going back years and years, for this data.  Even before I look at the numbers, I promise to report all data and not make any numbers up.  (You all know by now that I support same sex marriage, but I believe in doing this honestly).

                The envelope please…

                The most amazing thing is that almost all polls reveal a majority of Americans now favoring gay marriage, but that this represents a remarkable turnaround from just a few years ago and that most pollsters project the numbers to continue in this direction.

                Let’s take these one at a time.

                Public Religion Research Institute/Religion News Service offers the most recent polling data.  In a survey conducted March 7-12, the question was posed, “All in all, do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.”

                Add the favor and strongly favor together and you get 52 percent as opposed to only 44 percent for the strongly oppose and oppose.

                Let’s call that plus for same sex marriage.

                The same polling firm found 54-40 percent support on allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

                An ABC New/Washington Post Poll (March 7-10) asked, “Do you think it should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married?”

                52 percent said legal, 43 percent illegal (plus nine percent).  In July, 2011, the numbers were 51-45.  In April, 2009, the numbers were 49-46, the first time they showed support for same sex marriage.

                Look at this remarkable turnaround.  In June, 2006, only 36 percent favored legalization while 58 percent opposed (minus 22 percent).  Thus, we can note a 31 point turnaround in the past six years.

                But let’s look at another poll.

                In early March of this year, NBC News/Wall Street Journal asked, “Do you favor oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into same sex marriages?”

                The margin in favor was plus nine points (49-40) whereas in October, 2009, the total was 41-49 against (negative eight).  That’s a 17 point turnaround in two and a half years.

                The same poll asked, “Would you say you are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports same sex marriage, a candidate who opposes same sex marriage, or would it not make much difference in how you might vote?”

                More likely to vote for supporter—25 percent.

                More likely to vote for opponent—20 percent.

                Would not make much difference—54 percent.

                A CBS News/New York Times poll (Feb. 8-13, 2012) put the question a little differently.  “Which comes closest to your view?  Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry.  Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry.  Or there should be no legal recognition for a gay couple’s relationship.”

                Marry—40 percent

                Civil Unions—23 percent

                No legal recognition—31 percent.

                CBS also asked about gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.  50 percent strongly favored; another 18 percent favored for a total of 68 percent.  15 percent strongly opposed, seven percent not so strongly opposed for a total of only 22 percent opposed.

                Last July, ABC News, noting that New York State had just passed same sex marriage, asked, “Do you think this is a positive or negative development?”

                Positive—50 percent.

                Negative—46 percent.

                Most likely, those numbers would be even higher on the positive side today because all evidence is that support for same sex marriage increases with time.

                Most definitely, do NOT take my word for it.

                Go to pollingreport.com.

                You’ll find dozens of polls going back several years, and you’ll note that opposition was greater the farther back you go. 

                Next week—back to a more mundane look at the myriad of polls—those which show Obama’s numbers just about the even, which show Republicans leading in most U.S. Senate races of interest including Republican Senator Heller, who was supposed to be in trouble in Nevada, up seven (47-40) in the latest Rasmussen poll.

                To maintain that pledge of honesty, I must note that unlike four recent polls which show Massachusetts’ Republican Scott Brown handily defeating Elizabeth Warren, PPP is out today with a poll which shows Warren up five (41-46).  Of course, PPP is the Democratic outfit which at times has been known to express its wishes more than sound data in its polls.

                Here’s a bit of good news for Democrats.  Quinnipiac has Kaine leading Allen by three (47-44) in Virginia.  That’s going to be a squeaker…but I promised to wait till next week to get into this fun stuff.

                Enjoy Romney’s double digit win in Illinois.

                Long Live Lady Liberty!

                It’s no on repealing gay marriage in New Hampshire.

    Tuesday
    Mar202012

    Guest Commentary From Same Sex Marriage Sponsor Jim Splaine

    GUEST COMMENTARY FROM 2009 SPONSOR OF HB436,
    THE SAME SEX MARRIAGE BILL
    By The Honorable Jim Splaine
    Tuesday, March 20, 2012
    Dear State Representative,
     
    I was the primary sponsor of House Bill 436, the 2009 legislation that created civil marriage equality. I had also been primary sponsor of HB 437 in 2007, which established Civil Unions. After two years of that being in effect, it was clear that Civil Unions did not provide equality under the law, thus my introduction of marriage.
     
    There is a myth about how civil marriage equality was adopted by New Hampshire. No out-of-state organization, individual, or special interest asked me to introduce the bill -- nor of Civil Unions two years earlier. No political party or group in our state asked me to do so. I did it for my constituents who had seen discrimination, and wanted to end it.
     
    We adopted civil marriage equality the "New Hampshire Way," with thousands of our citizens showing their faces and telling their stories at public hearings, and speaking with or writing to their legislators and their governor, asking for equality. We should be proud of that.
     
    When we passed HB 436 in the spring of 2009, we laid a good foundation. We adopted civil marriage the right way, writing legislation that allowed for religious protections while at the same time providing the liberty of New Hampshire citizens -- our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members -- to be able to marry and share their love and caring with the person most important to them in their lives. That’s a wonderful thing to celebrate, and we should be proud that our state is among the first standing up for individual liberty.
     
    Every week since civil marriage for same-gender couples became effective on January 1, 2010, there have been more and more ceremonies. According to the N.H. Division of Vital Records, as of this week there are 1,906 same-gender marriages. That's something to celebrate in this wonderful place that we call "home."
     
    Economically, marriage equality has greatly benefited New Hampshire. Even though rights and equality should not be dependent on economics, the fact is that at $45.00 per marriage license, those 1,906 same-gender marriages have brought in $85,770.00 to cities and towns. Plus millions spent in our state for celebrations due to those weddings. That is good for our New Hampshire Advantage, just as equality is a good message about our “Live Free Or Die” ideal.
     
    Throughout my legislative years, I considered my primary job as being a cheerleader for our citizens. I tried to do no harm, and voted and spoke up for issues that I thought would help people. Marriage equality helps people, and does no harm for anyone. I never question anyone’s faith or religion. But religious beliefs should never stand in the way of treating one another equally. Our religious faith should guide our own lives, not the lives of others.
     
    In New Hampshire, we have never taken rights away from our citizens, nor have we ever put those rights to a vote. Nothing on this planet is more important than the way we treat one another, and we should never play politics with that. I hope that the Legislature where I spent 30 years as a House and Senate member, of the state where I was born and in which I plan to be buried, will do the right thing and say "no" to repeal of civil marriage equality.
     
    So as primary sponsor of the legislation you are being asked to repeal, I ask that you not do so. If, by chance or by politics marriage equality is repealed, that cause will continue. That’s part of the American spirit. Fighting for fairness is a core American value and those who want equality will not fade away.
     
    Americans -- both straight and gay -- have fought wars on the right side of the human heart, and in our nation we always eventually come down on the side of treating one another with fairness, equality, and dignity. And very special to New Hampshire’s history through the centuries has been the fight against discrimination. On this issue, I urge you to be on the right side of history. Marriage equality fulfills the ideals of a state and a nation that believes in “with liberty and justice for all.”
     
    Those are important words. With liberty. And justice. For all. None of us should rest until we have helped reach that dream, and made those words real.
     
    Respectfully,
     
    Jim Splaine
    Former House/Senate Member
    201 Oriental Gardens
    Portsmouth, NH 03801
    Tuesday
    Mar202012

    Gay Marriage Remarks From March, 2009

    Seldom do I read a prepared speech on the House floor.  I used to in my first few years, but more recently, I've gone with extemporaneous remarks.   House Bill 436 passed in 2009.  The bill authorized same sex marriage and was so important to me that I wrote a speech and edited it and edited it some more and finally delivered it on the floor.  Although I undoubtedly varied from the text a bit as I spoke, the remarks have been preserved.  They were actually printed in the House Journal, as was the entire debate, so I reproduce them here now stand ready (at last) to deal with Rep. David Bates's bill which would repeal the progress we made two years ago.  

    Here's what I said three years ago, remarks as true today as they were then. 

    Speaker Norelli:   The question before the House is on the adoption of Ought to Pass as Amended on HB 436.  The Chair recognizes the member from Manchester, Representative Vaillancourt.

    Rep. Vaillancourt:  Thank you, Madam Speaker.  I rise in support of HB 436.  As many of you know by now, I’ve spent much of the past year in my spare time studying American history.  In fact, while I was waiting to speak, I looked at these four pictures (the four men whose portraits appear in the House chambers--Presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and Senators Daniel Webster and Hale). 

    I’ve actually read the biographies in the last couple of months of four of these men.  In fact, the Pierce biography was a two volume biography.  So, I guess I’d like to just take a few minutes today to put this issue before us in historical perspective. 

    The month after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the great African American novelist, James Baldwin wrote in Saturday Review, “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone ever said about it.”  Terrible, especially for James Baldwin who was not only an African American, he was also a gay American in times when slurs against gay Americans were as common as slurs against African Americans. 

    Yes, James Baldwin was black and gay in the days before I have a dream, before Stonewall, before Harvey Milk, before civil unions and yes, before Barack Obama.  That was the time when only the brave dared venture out of the closet.  But, let us not focus on our dubious past today.  James Baldwin affirmed that American history is more beautiful than anything anyone ever said about it.  Founded on the principle that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, America was born in beauty. 

    American exceptionalism is for the ages and we who gather here today are truly privileged.  We are provided an opportunity to write a beautiful new chapter into American history.  We can become the 2nd legislative body in the United States to recognize marriage equality for God’s children.  Not because some court tells us to do so, but because we know the time has come. 

    I was prepared to say we’d become the 1st legislative body, but three days ago, the Senate in my native state of Vermont, by a 26 to 4 vote, passed legislation similar to this.  They beat us to it again.  The time has come for us to affirm just as we no longer discriminate against gay people in the workplace or public accommodations. 

    Just as we no longer consider it appropriate to utter slurs against gay people, we will no longer choose to deny gay people that most basic of rights, the right to fall in love and to affirm that love in a lasting committed relationship.  Fear not, this bill denies rights to no one.  It simply represents an attempt to offer free choice to everyone.  Fear not, this bill says nothing about what children will be taught in schools. 

    Nothing in this bill will discourage a young girl from imagining that she may grow up to marry a handsome prince.  It merely sends a message to those young girls who have no desire to do that, that it’s okay.  You need not be ashamed of what you are, that you need no longer live a lie. 

    You need no longer pretend that you are waiting for that handsome prince.  This bill is not an attempt to convert anyone to homosexuality.  That just doesn’t happen.  To think that anyone would choose a gay lifestyle would choose something that led to vilification throughout history, well, that’s just beyond my comprehension. 

    Fear not, this bill does not compel any minister or any church to perform any marriage that is contrary to the tenants of that church or minister. 

    Fear not, this bill does not send us down a slippery slope to polygamy, bestiality or incestual relationships anymore than allowing blacks and whites to marry 40 years ago sent us down that slope. 

    Fear not, this bill is not part of some radical agenda to tear asunder the moral underpinnings of our society or to destroy the family values we hold so dear.  You know what is destroying those values in our society today?  The ever increasing rate of children born out of wedlock.  The ever increasing children born to single mothers and the ever increasing divorce rate, none of which, none of which, can be blamed on the homosexual community. 

    Fear not, this bill is not about hate, quite the contrary.  This bill is all about love, about the importance of that most precious of commodities, love.  This bill actually strengthens family values.  According to Union Leader columnist, Drew Cline, no proponent of a radical agenda, and I quote, “By inviting homosexuals to marry, the state can make monogamy a social norm within that population.  With this one change in the law, the destructive effects of promiscuity can be diminished and the productive effects of marriage expanded.”  Thank you, Drew Cline. 

    In all truthfulness, he was paraphrasing thoughts I sent out a couple of weeks ago.  I said then and I affirm today that by bringing gay people into the mainstream of society, we marginalize the promiscuous gays who are so often maligned in the right wing media.  Yes, it’s true, rampant promiscuity and irresponsible behavior is indulged in by a small percentage of the gay and the straight communities.  Just as the straight community has its wife swappers and its so called swingers, the gay community has those who would play around. 

    If promiscuity is slighter higher in certain segments of the gay community, it is simply because gays have lived so long as societal outcasts that they have come to see irresponsible behavior as the norm for them. 

    Conservative Drew Cline gets it. 

    Another conservative who gets it is George Will, who recently stated on this week’s program on ABC that gay marriage is no big deal for young people.  Being gay, George Will said, is like being left handed.  Some things you simply are.  We would never think of denying left handed people the right of full marriage equality and through our history, through the progress we have made as man, we have arrived today at a time when we should no longer think of denying gay people full marriage equality. 

    As George Will says, in a generation, people will look back and wonder what all the big fuss was about.  That’s how universally accepted it will be. 

    Progress, Madam Speaker, think of it.  Homosexuals have been around since the beginning of time.  It was the love that dare not speak its name.  For centuries, these famous people spoke and acted only in secrecy.  I have heard of some of them, but I decided to Google it and I came up with 35 pages of prominent gays in history.  I’m not going to go through them all now.  I know you will be grateful for that. 

    Frederick the Great of Prussia, friend of Voltaire, Walt Whitman, great American poet, “Leaves of Grass”, “Song of Myself,” Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, James Dean.  There was even, according to a recent biographer, an American president. 

    Since it’s not totally clear whether he was gay or not, even though he and his lover around Washington were known as the Siamese twins and his lover was referred to as his wife, Miss Nancy and Fancy rigged out in her best clothes.  Since it’s not totally clear, I’m not going to name the president, but I will say that when his lover was sent to France as American minister, this future American president wrote to a friend, “Please listen, I am solitary and alone, having no companion in the house with me.  I have gone wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any of them.  I feel it is not good for a man to be alone.” 

    Yes, homosexuality has existed throughout history, usually something to be ashamed of and something to be repressed.  It wasn’t until the 19th century that a German social scientist, Karl Ulrichs, told us that through no fault of their own, through no fault of their own, homosexuals are different from heterosexuals.  The desire for same sex intimacy and affiliation is intrinsic, natural born or shaped in earliest infancy. 

    Progress is slow at times, Madam Speaker.  It was after nearly a century that Ulrichs said that, that the American Psychological Association affirmed that homosexuality is not a mental disorder.  There is no need for a cure. 

    In the meantime, a lot of gay people suffered in the closet, suffered for lack of what that American president termed a very ardent and romantic affection.  

    It wasn’t until the 1960’s that gay people mustered enough courage to step out of the closet at Stonewall in New York City in 1969. 

    In 1977 the first openly gay man was elected and you by now know the story of Harvey Milk in San Francisco. 

    You by now know that openly gay people are elected at the local, state and federal level, but did you know that after the economic meltdown in the country of Iceland that became the first country to elect an openly homosexual leader, lesbian Johanna Sigurdardottir.  My friend from Dover, who helps me with my pronunciations and can’t be here today, told me that means daughter of Sigurdar.  God bless her. 

    Yes, Madam Speaker, progress is slow.  It took hundreds of years before Abraham Lincoln could issue the emancipation proclamation and another century, another century before Americans of African descent were granted the rights they deserve. 

    It wasn’t until, as you’ve heard earlier, the Supreme Court affirmed in the Loving case in 1967 that blacks and whites could marry.  Think of it, 40 years ago, blacks and whites could not marry.  I guess they wouldn’t be considered peanut butter and jelly, huh? 

    Progress is slow, Madam Speaker, but there comes a time when forces coalesce, a time when we are compelled to forge ahead. 

    We stand at the cusp of such a time today. 

    Two years ago this legislature passed civil unions, but we now know that separate is not equal.  Undoubtedly, you, like I, have received several emails.  I was going to quote them, but I have carried on too long so I’ll just quote one that came in this morning from a lesbian who said her grandmother is 87 years old and a life long devout Republican. 

    She works in the Republican Party and has donated to the GOP.  She even listens to Rush Limbaugh.  “While the GOP is often associated with being against marriage equality, this grandmother loves her lesbian daughter, me and my partner very much and supports marriage equality.  She is not radical.  There is no way you could paint her that way.  She just believes in fairness.  She believes this is a basic American value and she believes that we deserve to get married.  To her, it’s not political ideology, it’s an issue of fairness and love.” 

    Our society benefits when people are allowed to fall in love and to state that love publicly. 

    Fear not, life is not a box of chocolates.  If someone takes a chocolate and eats it for sure there is one less chocolate for everyone to go around, but should two gay people fall in love, embrace each other and marry, there is still an infinite amount of love in society for gay and straight people to go around. 

    When two people, whoever they are, find love and make it manifest by joining together, our society is blessed.  Our society is blessed. 

    This country gave birth to the greatest ideals the world has ever known.  The fact that our forefathers were unable to live up those ideals completely in 1776 is sad, but who could disagree? 

    Who could disagree that ours is a better society today because all men can vote, not just those who own property? 

    That ours is a better society today because women can vote and exercise full rights? 

    That ours is a better society today because we overcame the original sin of slavery and because African Americans enjoy full rights of citizenship and yes that ours is a better society today because blacks and whites can marry? 

    We progress as a society.  Ours will be an even better society when we welcome gay and lesbian citizens into the mainstream and grant them full marriage equality, when we recognize that they are entitled to pursue love and happiness with just as much vigor as anyone else, that they need no longer live lives of lies or deny their innate feelings. 

    Finally, as I was preparing these remarks, public broadcasting was airing one of its ubiquitous fundraising specials, maybe you saw it.  Pete Seeger was singing “Turn, Turn, Turn, to everything there is a season, a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap, a time to laugh, a time to weep, to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” 

    My friends, this is our season, this is our time, a time for love, a time for peace, a time to heal.  I swear it’s not too late for gays and lesbians who have waited centuries, it is late, but with your help, I swear it’s not too late.  Thank you.

    Saturday
    Mar172012

    Government By Nonbinding Referendum? I Think Not

    In his unending quest to convince New Hampshire Representatives that gay marriage is the greatest scourge ever to be visited upon our society, Windham Rep David Bates has amended his bill to repeal gay marriage to include a non-binding referendum which would be placed on November's ballot.

    Speaker Bill O'Brien agrees with Bates that denying two human beings the right to express their love in a formal fashion is--stop the presses--what he and 297 other Republicans were elected to do.  Word has leaked that O'Brien plans to throw the House rule book aside, and bring up the Bates amendment prior to an amendment from the Judiciary Committee.  Committee amendments have always been the first to be considered and then and only then are bill open to further amendment, but O’Brien and Bates clearly are willing to break any rules or traditions to foist this insane notion of a non-biding referendum onto the Legislature.

    No, you just can't make this stuff up. 

    The New Hampshire Constitution does not allow for initiative petitions.  Whether or not you think such petitions are a good idea, they are simply not allowed here.  In fact, maybe we should have a nonbinding referendum to get a sense of the people as to whether or not we should amend the Constitution to provide an initiative petition process.

    Referendum on Referendums?--Maybe we should have a nonbinding referendum to decide whether we should have a non-binding referendum on gay marriage.

    I say this only in jest of course.  The main point is deadly serious.  How could anyone be so vain as to think this issue and nothing else merits the status of a nonbinding referendum?  There’s a Yiddish word I’m searching for here, one I probably can’t spell.  No, not verklempt.  The word is chutzpah.  He may not speak Yiddish, but Rep. Bates has plenty of good old-fashioned chutzpah to think his issue and his issue alone merits a special vote.

    At least a dozen issues of much more importance to all New Hampshire voters come to mind, and yet Bates is not asking we put them to a public vote.  Here are a few.

    Referendum on Gambling?  Why not?  Most polls seem to show support for it, but no one is asking for a nonbinding referendum.  Better yet, why not make it two referendums, one for the D’Allesandro gambling plan which makes a few out of state casino owners rich and the Gatsas plan which gets more money back into state coffers?  As long as we’re asking voters to decide, we may as well clutter the ballot with as many decisions as possible.

    Referendum on An Income Tax or Sales Tax?  Larger minorities support them both than support a repeal of gay marriage, yet Bates isn't asking that the issue be put to a non-binding vote.

    Referendum on The Speed Limit?  All surveys show that 85 percent of us speed every day, yet the New Hampshire House, just voted against raising it.  Why not let the people decided whether laws should reflect the consent of the governed?

    That's an issue I could get behind.

    A Trapping Referendum?  Since first elected in 1996, I've been trying to ban the cruel and inhumane practice of trapping.  The legislature has always said no, but when the people of Massachusetts were allowed to vote on it, they said yes. 

    Let's let the people vote on that here.

    A Dog Racing Referendum?  Last year, the New Hampshire legislature decided to end dog racing, the same decision Massachusetts’ voters reached through the referendum process a few years back.  But wait.  Maybe we should let New Hampshire voters weight in on the subject, and while we’re at it…maybe we should ask voters if they think these now defunct dog racing tracks should have a monopoly on simulcasting races from other venues.  Why not open the televised races up to others or bar it for everyone?

    A Seat Belt Referendum?  New Hampshire is the only state not to force people top buckle up when they get in their cars.  I firmly believe it’s a mater of individual choice, but it we’re going to start asking the voting public to weigh in on issues, why not this one?  Gay marriage affects very few people (a couple thousand so far), but this would affect us all.

    A Death Penalty Referendum?   Gay marriage is certainly not a matter of life and death, but there’s one issue which is.  Yes, that would be the death penalty.  A few years back, the New Hampshire House voted to get rid of it.  A few years before that, both the House and Senate voted to get rid of it (Governor Jeanne Shaheen vetoed it).  Most polls show people favor the death penalty, but some polls show that people would favor doing away with it if we included the option of replacing it with life in prison with no chance of parole.  Certainly if Bates and Joe McQuaid think we should let the people decide on gay marriage, the people have a right to weigh in on death.

    An Insurance Referendum?  For years, Manchester Alderman Ed Osborne has been pushing for a law requiring all New Hampshire drivers to be covered by insurance.  The legislature kills the idea every session, but maybe it would be a different story if people were allowed to vote on the idea in a referendum.  Gay marriage affects so few people; an insurance requirement would affect us all.

    Bottle Bill Referendum?  The Legislature always votes against a bottle bill, but other states have gone this route.  In the interest of a greener environment, maybe we should pass a bottle bill.  Maybe the people would say yes if provided the option on a referendum.  Gay marriage affects so few people; a bottle bill would affect us all.

    Do It For Granny D—The Legislature just voted down a bill providing for public financing of elections, but in honor of Granny D, who made this her number one cause, shouldn’t we let the people decide.  Gay marriage affects so few people; public financing would affect us all.

    The number of possibilities for non-binding referendums is limited only by one’s imagination….should we wish to navigate that slippery slope.

    I say we don’t.  We have the largest legislative body in the country.  Each of our 400 Reps represents only about 3300 people, so the voice of the people can certainly be heard without subjecting each issue to a non-binding referendum.