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January 9, 2011

Gay marriage law could be repealed

After just a year, gay marriage in New Hampshire could be history.

More than 1,000 couples have legally married their same-sex spouses in New Hampshire since Jan. 1, 2010, but the state's newly Republican-dominated Legislature wants to stop future marriages. Local as well as outside interests are getting ready for a long fight over the next year.

Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, has already filed two bills to return the marriage law to exactly what it was four years ago. His bill strictly defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but also has a caveat so marriages performed the past year would remain legal.

"I'm quite comfortable that the bill will pass both the House and the Senate," Bates said. "I think the real challenge will be if the governor chooses to veto this."

If Democratic Gov. John Lynch does veto the bill, the Legislature needs two-thirds of members present to override his veto.

Mo Baxley, executive director of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, said the attempt to repeal the law is a waste of the Legislature's time.

"It seems foolhardy to pursue this when they know they can't win," she said. "The governor has already publicly stated he will veto the bill, and I don't believe they'll be able to round up the votes to override a veto."

She said legislators should focus their time, energy and money on job creation and the budget instead.

Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, said gay marriage is not the Republican Party's first concern.

"Right now we're concerned about the economy," he said. "We need to get people back to work first."

But Baldasaro said Republicans can work on the economy while also working to repeal a law he feels does not reflect the true beliefs and values of New Hampshire residents.

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