EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

January 18, 2012

Same-sex marriage vote delayed

State Rep. Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth, was ready to vote today to oppose a repeal of the state's same-sex marriage law.

The issue was not on the House calendar, but lawmakers expected to cast their votes, she said.

But Republican House leaders have delayed the vote on gay marriage, House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, said yesterday.

"The legislation will not be considered for a floor vote until February," Bettencourt said in an email.

"We must deal with some critical financial and economic-related legislation first, as well as legislative redistricting, prior to any discussion of gay marriage," he said. "It's critical to keep legislative priorities in their proper order."

Bettencourt said in late December the House would most likely vote on the issue Jan. 11 or today.

Yesterday, Bettencourt said he was only speculating at the time and that House Speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, controls the House calendar.

The vote on House Bill 437 was never formally scheduled, Bettencourt said.

But Pantelakos, a 34-year House member, said that was news to her.

"I was definitely looking to vote on it today," she said.

Pantelakos, 76, said she spent the entire day in Concord yesterday and had not heard about a delay. She said it's not unusual for the GOP leadership to postpone action on bills.

"I don't know why it was put off," Pantelakos said. "I assume someone has said they won't get enough votes for it and want to push it back. It's not a good way to do business."

The bill's lead sponsor is Rep. David Bates, R-Windham.

Bates said yesterday there was never any plan to debate his legislation today. The top priority today is a legislative redistricting bill, he said.

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