Jennifer Horn reaffirms push to drop ‘traditional’ marriage from NHGOP platform

  • Jennifer Horn Courtesy—

For the Monitor
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Despite a dust-up with New Hampshire Republicans this weekend, Jennifer Horn says she’s still committed to adding marriage equality to the state GOP’s platform.

“It is my ardent belief that we cannot be the party of the Bill of Rights and the party that continues to advocate for the denial of rights for a small, narrowly defined group of Americans,” the former state Republican Party chairwoman told the Monitor on Tuesday. “I think our party is better than this.”

Horn and her husband, Bill Horn, were disqualified as delegates at the NHGOP convention Saturday because they had recently moved from one ward to another in Nashua. The convention ended with no action on Horn’s two proposals to reverse the party’s longtime support for “traditional families” and marriage as only “between a man and a woman.”

Unlike her husband, who on Monday resigned from the NHGOP state committee and severed all ties with the Nashua arm of the party, Horn said she isn’t leaving and remains “committed to advancing (GOP) principles.”

“I think that we can advance policy that lifts up all families and all Granite Staters without having to define people that we don’t want apply it to,” said Horn, who’s a co-chair of the New Hampshire chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that supports gay rights.

The state Republican Party platform currently reads “We believe that traditional families are the foundation of strong communities, and that family life best nurtures love of country, faith in God, morality and concern for others.”

Horn pushed to change the word “traditional” to “nurturing.”

The platform has long recognized “marriage as the legal and sacred union between one man and one woman as ordained by God, encouraged by the state and traditional to humankind, and the core of the family.”

Another proposal by Horn would have dropped that line.

The convention met behind closed doors at the Inter-Lakes High School in Meredith. Reporters were barred from covering the proceedings.

“My husband and I were never notified that there were any problems or concerns with our credentialing at any time,” Horn said. “And we were assured by the party as late as Friday night that we were in fact credentialed delegates.”

But on Saturday their credentials were challenged by a delegate, and by a 2-to-1 vote Horn and her husband were disqualified.

“What unfolded at the convention completely blindsided us,” Horn said. “We’re were unaware that there was going to be a challenge or there were any concerns. I am very disappointed that we did not have the opportunity as a party to engage in what I think is a long overdue open, honest, respectful debate about these important issues.”

She said she believes the move was part of an attempt by some to try to shut down debate on the two amendments she sponsored. Other delegates in the room “believe they were just applying” the state party’s rules, she said.

State Rep. Al Baldasaro told the Monitor that’s why he voted to disqualify the Horns.

“The rules are the rules,” the conservative lawmaker from Londonderry said. The Horns were disqualified because of their change of address, he said.

While she lost this battle, Horn still hopes to win the war.

“We do not have to wait two years for another convention to have this conversation,” she said. “This is the conversation that we will engage in on a regular basis.”

Horn steered the state party during the 2014 and 2016 election cycles. During the last presidential election, she had an uneasy relationship with the leadership of the Donald Trump presidential campaign in New Hampshire.

After Republican Chris Sununu’s election as governor in November 2016, Horn was replaced as NHGOP chairwoman by Jeanie Forrester, a former state senator who ran against Sununu in the gubernatorial primary before backing him the general election.

Horn publicly called on the state party to adopt marriage equality in her last meeting as NHGOP chair.

Baldasaro said he backs the current language on marriage.

“I support the platform and probably 75 percent to 85 percent of Republicans support it,” he said.

Yet, he added, “Our tent is open to everybody.”

Even though Bill Horn is severing his ties with the state and local Republican committees, Jennifer Horn is staying with the GOP.

“I believe very strongly that Republican principles are what our nation needs to solve the problems that we face, and I remain committed to advancing those principles and to helping get strong, solid Republicans who are committed to freedom, equality and oppor tunity for all,” she said.