Voters don't want gay marriage repealed

Last modified: 2/15/2011 12:00:00 AM
We should find out this week whether the New Hampshire Legislature will actually do what 96 percent of Republicans want them to do: govern with a laser-like focus on the economy.

A recent nonpartisan poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center unequivocally shows people expect the Legislature to dig us out of this stubbornly bad economy. Job creation and fiscal responsibility are what they care about. Not social issues.

And in a poll released days later by New Hampshire Freedom to Marry, the numbers were so closely aligned as to be in the margin of error. In that poll, 59 percent of voters approve of the law and in another number that politicians would love to claim in any election year, 63 percent have no appetite to eliminate the freedom to marry in the Granite State.

Nonetheless, on Thursday there will be a legislative hearing on whether to scrap the popular 2009 law that has allowed more than 1,300 loving and committed New Hampshire gay people to marry.

Fritz Bell, 78, and Will Fregosi, 65, of Raymond, have been together 14 years. They got married in another state seven years ago to make that commitment to one other. And they wanted to ensure that in their senior years, they can take full responsibility and care for one another as other married couples do.

'I actually carry our marriage certificate in my wallet,' Bell says, 'because if something should happen to me I want there to be no doubt that Will belongs by my side.'

One of the bills to be debated Thursday, sponsored by Rep. David Bates, would take away that marriage certificate. The state of New Hampshire would no longer recognize the Bell and Fregosi marriage.

In the Freedom to Marry poll, Granite Staters overwhelmingly believe repealing marriage equality is a bad idea, including 66 percent of independents and even one in three Republicans.

Majorities of voters in more conservative-leaning regions - Manchester, Salem, Nashua and surrounding towns - oppose overturning the law. And despite the goal of some to insert these marriages into the Republican presidential primary, only 1 percent of Republicans see it as an important issue for the 2012 nominee.

Gay and lesbian couples are our neighbors, nurses, firefighters and small-business owners who get up every day and go to work. They take care of their families. Eliminating their freedom to marry doesn't square with New Hampshire values. We don't want the government interfering in our lives. Equality and freedom are what we value. And that means freedom and equality for all of us - not just some of us.

(Mo Baxley is executive director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry.)


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