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Voters want us to repeal gay marriage

Last modified: 3/20/2012 12:00:00 AM
In the next few weeks the New Hampshire House and Senate will debate and vote on HB 437, the bill that will restore the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. The cry is being heard, 'Why are you focusing on social issues, when you promised to focus on jobs and the economy? Can't you just leave marriage alone?'

Let me answer that question in three parts. First, why are we discussing this? Second, what did we promise in the 2010 election? And third, what did the people say in the 2010 election?

Why are we discussing this? Because the Legislature passed civil unions in 2007 and gay marriage in 2009, in both cases after a remarkable silence on those issues in the 2006 and 2008 campaigns.

In 2006 the Democratic Party swept into power in New Hampshire and across the nation. Here in New Hampshire, their campaign focus was the Iraq war, jobs and the economy. Precious little was said in that campaign about what would become one of the defining issues of their term: the passage of civil unions for same-sex partners. Truly a stealth issue! Supporters convinced their fellow lawmakers that if they would support those unions, they would be satisfied with that.

In 2008, the campaign issues were declining state revenue, spending, jobs and the economy. Very little was said about civil unions or same-sex marriage except by Republican challengers. New Hampshire bucked the national trend by reducing the Democratic majority by 17. But the passage of gay marriage became one of the defining issues of the 2009 session, again a stealth issue. And this at a time when taxes and spending were increasing at an alarming and unsustainable pace.

We ran on this issue

Now fast-forward to the 2010 election. I, with many of my House and Senate colleagues, ran on a platform that included jobs, the economy, holding the line on taxes, reducing spending to rein in a runaway budget deficit and restoration of traditional marriage. I was completely transparent and direct about my support for the time-tested model of marriage between one man and one woman. My position was on my website, in my campaign literature, argued in my debates with my opponent and stated in interviews with the media. I was elected to fulfill my promises to my constituents.

Have we kept our promises? We balanced the budget with no new taxes. To do so, we reduced spending by 11 percent, nearly half of the increase in spending of the previous four years. We negotiated and passed major state pension reform. We passed an affordable school funding plan. We started the process of reviewing state business regulations, working to restore the New Hampshire Advantage for both citizens and businesses. We kept our promises on these issues, and we did so in the first year of our term, delaying the vote on marriage until these were accomplished.

Now is the time to keep our promise to restore traditional marriage. I believe that is what citizens expect from those they elect to represent them - to keep the promises they made in their campaigns.

Let's talk about what the people of New Hampshire said about marriage with their votes in the 2010 election.

The House passed gay marriage by a thin 186-179 margin. So what happened to those 186 representatives who voted for same-sex marriage? Nearly two-thirds of them, 122 of the 186, were not re-elected. Now, some may say that the election was just about jobs and the economy and it was a bad year for Democrats. And that people were not thinking about the previous stealth votes for gay marriage.

Voters paid attention

Ah, not so. To be sure, New Hampshire citizens were thinking about jobs and the economy. But that is not the whole picture. Twenty-five Democrats voted against gay marriage in 2008. Nearly 60 percent of them won re-election, compared to only 34 percent of those who voted in favor of gay marriage. It is distinctly possible that the outcome of the 2010 election would have been substantially different if more of Democrats had voted against same sex-marriage!

And how did the voters treat the 23 Democrats who were conspicuously absent for the vote on same-sex marriage? Not very well! Fourteen of them, more than 60 percent, were not re-elected.

What happened in the Senate? Same-sex marriage was passed on a 13-11 vote. Thirteen Democrats voted for same-sex marriage. Nine of them, a whopping 69 percent, were not re-elected! One Democrat senator voted against gay marriage. He was re-elected. In fact, every senator who voted against gay marriage and ran for re-election was re-elected!

My opponent and I both took principled stands on opposite sides of the marriage issue. The citizens of my district sent me to Concord to do what I said I would do. I will do all I can to keep my word to the voters of Senate District 6 and passionately support the restoration of traditional marriage.

I believe the 2010 election results made it pretty clear that is what the majority of voters want us to do.

(State Sen. Fenton Groen is a Republican from Rochester.)


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