This Portsmouth, New Hampshire native is gleeful about the news that the New Hampshire Senate passed a state marriage equality bill Wednesday afternoon by 13 to 11. Since a similar marriage bill passed the House last month, the bill can move forward to the desk of Governor Lynch as soon as the House approves the Senate's amended bill. Although Gov. Lynch says he does not support same-sex marriage, the law can go into effect without his signature...as long as he doesn't veto it. Personally, I'm hopeful that Lynch will take some time to think it through (maybe a lot of time...) and decide not to veto progress.
To the folks who might not have predicted that New Hampshire would be next up in the current wave of LGBT equality, we conveniently have a slogan already prepared for you: Don't Take New Hampshire for Granite!
Especially gratifying is the news that NOM, the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (who created the ridiculous Gathering Storm ads that spawned a thousand Gay Storm parodies) has been investing heavily behind the scenes to lobby against the New Hampshire marriage equality bills. With the financial backing of NOM-NOM, an anti-gay New Hampshire organization called Cornerstone Policy Research says it called 150,000 households over the past two months to fight the gathering storm of equal rights. That's 30% of the households in the entire state! And you know what? It just goes to show that, with or without slick lightning-bolt effects and made-up stories of how straight people are wounded by LGBT equality, fair-minded people know fear-mongering when they see it. And ultimately, they will reject fear--and embrace what's right.
I'm proud of those fair-minded citizens of the Granite State, and I'm especially proud of the leadership shown by two fellow Portsmouthians: Senator Martha Fuller Clark and Representative Terie Norelli. Norelli's impassioned floor speech on another LGBT rights issue--a bill to include protections for transgender people in the state's nondiscrimination law--caused the House of Representatives to reverse an earlier vote and pass gender identity protections by 188-187 this month. Unfortunately, that bill did not survive the Senate's vote Wednesday. But when I emailed Rep. Norelli to thank her for her strength, she replied to say: "Given that the vast majority of emails I have received in response to my floor remarks are filled with hate and fear, I can only begin to imagine how difficult daily life is for those who are discriminated against. My part has indeed been a small one."
Equality for same-sex couples took a New Hampshire-sized step forward, and I have faith that--despite Wednesday's setback--gender identity protections will eventually pass too (not only statewide but federally). That's how the tide of change works: sometimes incrementally, sometimes in giant waves. So thank you to everyone standing up against discrimination, hate, and fear--in NH and around the country. Please know that the part you play is not small.
P.S. Check out the suggested actions from the LGBT Project, below:
If you live in New Hampshire, contact Governor Lynch to urge him to allow the bill to go into effect. Tell him civil unions don’t provide the universal recognition and respect that comes with marriage and that marriage is the only fair way to treat lesbian and gay couples. If you have friends and family in New Hampshire, please urge them to do the same.
If you live in states with a governor who is on record supporting marriage for lesbian and gay couples, please call your governor and ask him to contact Governor Lynch and ask that he allow the bill to go into law. Governors in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey all support the right for lesbian and gay couples to marry.
(Updated, originally posted to Get Busy 4/30/2009.)