The New Hampshire state House has voted 211 to 116 to kill HB 437, the bill that would have repealed New Hampshire’s freedom to marry law. The New Hampshire House currently has a Republican majority, guaranteeing that this is a bipartisan victory. From Advocate:

“Our opponents tried to abuse the 2010 Republican legislative sweep in New Hampshire to repeal the popular law,” said Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director. “What they didn’t count on was the fact that the freedom to marry is becoming a bipartisan value, as resoundingly reflected in today’s vote.”

New Hampshire was the first state to adopt a marriage equality law without pressure from the courts. Since its enactment in 2010, approximately 1,800 same-sex couples have married.

Polls and, significantly, town meeting votes have demonstrated time and again that the majority of New Hampshire voters want to keep the freedom to marry law on the books. In the two days leading up to today’s vote alone, marriage equality supporters across New Hampshire sent a stunning 10,000-plus messages to state legislators “urging them to oppose any attempt to repeal our state’s popular marriage law,” according to Standing Up for New Hampshire Families. It would appear that the Legislature got the message.

Update: By my count from the roll call tally, an astonishing 118 of the 202 bill-killing “no” votes were cast by Republicans.

Reactions below the fold, as they come in.

From Standing Up for New Hampshire Families:

Standing Up for NH Families Declares Victory in Staving Off Repeal of Marriage Equality

CONCORD, NH– Standing Up for NH Families, the bipartisan organization fighting efforts to repeal or roll back the 2009 marriage equality law released the following statement from co-chair Craig Stowell, a Republican from Claremont, following the House vote of 211-116 to defeat the bill:

“Today is a banner day for the freedom to marry. Our opponents have been crowing about getting their two-thirds, but in the end, it’s clear they couldn’t muster the votes. This is a victory for our supporters — the majority of Granite Staters who oppose any roll back of marriage equality — because they reached out time and again and told lawmakers to leave this law alone.

This was our opponents’ best shot and they blew it. This was supposed to be the most favorable legislative climate for repeal and they couldn’t even get a majority.

Still, we cannot simply pack our bags and go home. Our opponents still want to end marriage equality in New Hampshire and we must keep a watchful eye on the Legislature, and make sure voices of equality are heard in November.

But this is a good day for all New Hampshire families who can celebrate tonight and know their marriages are no longer under attack in Concord.”

Freedom to Marry:

New Hampshire Marriage Repeal Efforts Defeated

3/21/2012

Overwhelmingly Republican Legislature Votes Measure Down

Press Contact:
Jackie Yodashkin
Communications Director, Freedom to Marry
jackie@freedomtomarry.org
917-620-4502

CONCORD – Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted down legislation that would have repealed the state’s two-year-old freedom to marry law along with a key vote to defeat the Bates Amendment, which would have forced a non-binding referendum on marriage onto the November ballot and replaced marriage with civil unions. The final bill was defeated by a vote of 211 to 116 and the Bates Amendment by a vote of 162 to 188. Stripping away the freedom to marry in New Hampshire was a top priority of national anti-gay organizations, which had predicted that they would be able to garner the vote of two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to override the promised veto by Governor John Lynch.

Below is a statement from Freedom to Marry’s National Campaign Director Marc Solomon:

“Live Free or Die is alive and well in New Hampshire. Today’s vote affirms that Granite Staters stand strongly against stripping away freedoms from any of their neighbors.

“Our opponents tried to abuse the 2010 Republican legislative sweep in New Hampshire to repeal the popular law. What they didn’t count on was the fact that the freedom to marry is becoming a bipartisan value, as resoundingly reflected in today’s vote.

“We are grateful to Governor John Lynch for his principled defense of the freedom to marry law, and to the many lawmakers—both Republican and Democrat—who listened carefully to their constituents and recognized that New Hampshire is stronger when all committed couples can share in the freedom to marry.

“Freedom to Marry is proud to be part of Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, a bipartisan group of citizens, business owners, people of faith, and civic leaders for mounting an exceptionally effective campaign to highlight the voices of Granite Staters from every walk of life who opposed repealing the popular marriage law. We especially thank Standing Up co-chairs Lew Feldstein and Craig Stowell for their stalwart leadership.”

Freedom to Marry is a founding board member of Standing Up for New Hampshire Families and invested significant leadership and staff resources to protect the state’s freedom to marry law. Freedom to Marry was also the largest financial investor in the campaign.

On multiple occasions, national anti-gay organizations such as the so-called National Organization for Marriage marketed themselves as committed to overturning the freedom to marry in New Hampshire, as well as in DC, Iowa, and New York:

NOM’s President, Brian Brown, said the organization is “poised to start taking back territory…in places like New Hampshire. That will be the next battleground, and we are confident of victory.”

Maggie Gallagher, the chair of NOM’s board, said in July of 2011 that “New Hampshire is gonna vote to reverse gay marriage in January, I would predict.”

Just after the 2010 elections, the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. vowed to do “whatever it takes” to repeal the freedom to marry in New Hampshire.

Only seven Republicans in the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted in favor of the freedom to marry law in 2009; today, however, approximately 100 voted not to repeal the law.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders

GLAD APPLAUDS MARRIAGE EQUALITY VICTORY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders today cheered the vote of the New Hampshire legislature today to (reject HB437, a repeal of the state’s marriage equality law. By a vote of 211-116, New Hampshire lawmakers outright voted down HB437.

“Today’s victory affirmed the equality of New Hampshire’s gay and lesbian citizens,” said Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD. “After the last election where Republicans gained control of both the House and the Senate, some thought that marriage equality was doomed. But many, many Republicans courageously stood up against repeal. We thank them and we congratulate Standing Up for New Hampshire Families and all the organizations and individuals who worked so hard to protect the freedom to marry.”

Marriage equality was signed into law in New Hampshire in 2009, and marriage began in the state on January 1, 2010. According to recent polls, over 60% of New Hampshire residents support marriage equality.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Human Rights Campaign:

Republican-led New Hampshire Legislature Kills Marriage Repeal Bill

WASHINGTON – Today, in a surprise move, the Republican-led House of Representatives in New Hampshire flatly rejected a bill to repeal the state’s popular marriage law by a vote of 211-116. The bill called for ending same-sex marriage, which has been legal in the state for more than two years.

“Today’s big victory is a testament to the bipartisan groundswell throughout the state to keep the popular marriage law on the books,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “This victory was made possible by Republicans and conservatives standing up for freedom and family. Clearly, Granite Staters believe this is a settled issue, and it’s time to move on.”

Every independent poll has shown a supermajority of voters –including Republicans and conservatives – oppose overturning the Granite State’s popular marriage law.

“We thank Governor Lynch and supportive Republican and Democratic legislators for their tireless work on bringing marriage equality to the state and their continued leadership in the weeks ahead,” said Solmonese. “And we could not be more proud of Claremont’s Craig Stowell, a conservative Republican and former Marine, who has been fighting to defend his gay brother’s freedom to get married.”

HRC has been engaged in winning and protecting marriage equality in New Hampshire for a number of years – with particular attention to ensuring lawmakers hear from their constituents through a robust field operation.

In 2009, the New Hampshire legislature passed a law allowing committed, loving gay and lesbian couple to marry. The Governor signed the bill and since then more than 1,900 same-sex couples have married.