Tuesday, March 08, 2011

10 Month NH Timeout

The lamest political cliché may be there are two sides to every story/argument. As any criminal trial or the current NH same-sex marriage war shows, there tend to be many sides, each with its crucial distinctions.

At their best, these partisans highlight nuances and let us clarify our own thinking. Up in the state that regularly belies its live-free-or-die motto, the opportunity arrives again in the form of SSM campaigns.

Most recently, the oddly timid new GOP bicameral super-majority pushed off a vote rip away existing marriage rights from homosexual couples until next year. (Live Limited and Lie?) Two bills might hit the floor in January; one would redefine marriage there by limiting it to one man/one woman and the other would invent a new, complex mechanism to replace all marriages with domestic unions. (This latter surely is too Byzantine to advance; it confuses and insults all sides.)

The GOP scale is heavy — 74% (297 to 102) in the House and 79% (19 to 5) in the Senate. The wishy-washy Dem Gov. John Lynch seems to be evenhanded enough, but he rides to battle without spear or sword or even war cry. He would be likely to veto repeal of the year-plus old SSM approval, but in theory that could be overridden.

The likely reason for pushing off the vote is not as the committees involved would have it a desire and need to devote every moment to working on the economy and such. Instead, all polls of the citizenry show that a strong majority do not want to repeal SSM. It's not such much that NH voters are gay friendly as they come from a culture of liberty. The idea of giving a group civil rights only to take those back for political reasons doesn't suit them.

The backlash on the new GOP tops might well be crushing.

So for the many players on this stage, nearly a year of delay until at least next January means devoting every moment to plotting, positioning, planning, and persuading. We also get the benefit of analysis from all concerned and all observing.

The winger paper, The Union Leader, already augments its news of the delay with a what-to-expect preview. Not surprisingly in coverage no one else is likely to conceive of, the preview centers on how this may affect GOP presidential hopefuls early next year as they visit, campaigning. This is a wonderful display of boosterism and provincialism, stressing the imagined pivot of the state.

The piece cites how most possible hopefuls are afraid even to discuss gay rights or SSM. The UL leaders posit:
It's a debate that so far has left Republican candidates squirming and could shatter any notion of a GOP "truce" on social issues designed to keep the primary focused on the economy.
Back in the mundanity of the matter, the Concord Monitor rounded up the usual suspects. There's someone from Standing Up for New Hampshire Families (pro-marriage equality) saying he was disappointed the legislature didn't kill the repeal act. There's the head of Cornerstone Action (anti-gay/anti-SSM) saying his group will work with the lawmakers to ensure repeal.

Marriage-equality supporters express uneasy confidence that a second year of SSM will reinforce that it harms no one and helps thousands. Plus there's that personal liberty thing. Moreover, neighboring Massachusetts has already shown nearly seven years of positive results from SSM.

Those committed to denying equal rights to homosexuals don't seem to mind making irrational, unprovable claims in the face of evidence though. There's no reason to suppose they'll get reasonable this year or next or the next. Moreover, as we see now in NH and saw in MA, whether equality arises by representative democracy through the legislature, by plebiscite or by court decision, the anti types will try every alternative to get their way. It brings terrific time, money, mental and emotional drain and distraction.

If somehow the current war against equality brought resolution and let people get on living and loving in liberty, it might all seem worth the agita and agony. Unfortunately, we know from considerable experience that the anti-gay sorts don't, won't, can't give up.

When they return to the earth, their nastiness will go with them. The polls of the rising generations strongly show that they don't share the prejudice and desire to discriminate. Surely they'll develop and exhibit their own irrationalities. Yet there is no evidence of anything so hateful as this.

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