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  • 2--Aaron Rohde/Union Leader

    Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage, speaks out against gay marriage during a rally at City Hall Plaza in Manchester Thursday.

  • 4-- Aaron Rohde/Union Leader

    Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage, speaks out against gay marriage, while supporters hold signs for their cause, Thursday at City Hall Plaza in Manchester.
  • Aaron Rohde/Union Leader

    One of the speakers from the National Organization for Marriage bus tour, speaks out against gay marriage as protesters look on from across the street at city hall plaza Thursday in Manchester.

  • 3-- Aaron Rohde/Union Leader

    National Organization for Marriage hands out "Lynch Lied stickers as well as takes information from supporters for their mailing lists, during a rally at City Hall Plaza in Manchester Thursday.
Friday, July 16, 2010

Same-sex marriage opponents rally

MANCHESTER – National socially conservative leaders predicted New Hampshire will be a decisive beachhead for an about-face on same-sex marriage after this fall’s elections.

About 100 opponents of the state’s same-sex marriage law rallied in City Hall Plaza on Thursday.

This was the second stop on a 19-state tour for the National Organization for Marriage that over the next month hopes to mobilize 2 million opponents of marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

Executive Director Brian Brown said Gov. John Lynch, a popular three-term Democrat, could pay with his job this November for changing his mind in June 2009 to make New Hampshire the fifth state where same-sex marriage is legal. Maine, which was one of those states, has since repealed its law.

“I think people are definitely upset that they have been betrayed,” Brown said during an interview. “We are very hopeful and optimistic that we are going to get a pro-marriage majority.’’

Last week, a federal judge ruled the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts where same-sex marriage is also legal.

Brown urged the crowd to spread the word and make this a decisive issue in November.

“You need to get the word out. These are the legislators; this was the governor who betrayed you,” Brown declared. “This is doable; this is winnable but it is up to you.’’

Kevin Smith, executive director of Cornerstone Action, a co-sponsor of the rally, lashed out at 30 defenders of same-sex marriage who stood across the street, some holding signs that read, “Support God’s Hate,” “Hate-Free Zone,” “Live Free or Die: Support Equality” and “Only Fags Hate Homos.”

“Tolerance does not mean calling people haters and bigots; enough is enough,” Smith said.

Karen Testerman, Franklin Republican hopeful for governor, was the only candidate to attend, though Senate GOP candidate Ovide Lamontagne sent a strong letter of support.

Dr. Ruth Roback, who heads the NOM-financed Ruth Institute, challenged the view that same-sex marriage does not degrade the lives of heterosexual couples.

Once same-sex marriage is made legal, Roback claimed state governments through education, social policies and other means try to force different social mores on the public.

“Marriage is a natural, pre-political institution; same-sex marriage is entirely a creation of the state,” Roback said. “Same-sex marriage is a hostile takeover of civil society by the state.”

Last spring, NOM bank-rolled an expensive TV attack ad campaign that accused Lynch of lying to the voters not just on same-sex marriage but business taxes and state spending.

Visitors to the rally could pick up free “Lynch Lied” bumper stickers that invited them to a NOM-sponsored website dedicated to opposing the New Hampshire governor.

Smith criticized Lynch for serving as the guest speaker last May at a Chicago luncheon for Political Outgiving, a Gill Action Fund national group dedicated to supporting pro-gay rights lawmakers and governors.

“It is now clear John Lynch is absolutely beholden to the money from this radical lobby,” Smith said.

Mo Baxley, executive director of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, said opponents failed to scare residents into believing the social fabric has been damaged here since same-sex marriages were allowed last Jan. 1.

“Fear mongering does not work in here,” Baxley said.

“The people of New Hampshire have demonstrated time after time that they are not bigots and will not condone discrimination.

“After six months of marriage equality in New Hampshire, the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. And truth be told, most people have seen no impact on their lives at all.”

For gay marriage opponents to win, they will have to beat Lynch and unseat many incumbents.

While this proposition initially failed before it narrowly passed the Legislature in 2009, a move last spring to get the same lawmakers to repeal it fell flat.

“They are trying to incite people but the repeal bill got defeated 2-1 in the Statehouse,” said Rep. Robert Thompson, D-Manchester, an openly married gay man whose partner adopted his 10-year-old son.

Rep. David Pierce, D-Hanover, was also a co-sponsor of the law, and said while 31 states have adopted heterosexual marriage only referendums, New Hampshire’s residents think differently.

“New Hampshire has a two- century tradition of live free or die,” said Pierce, also an openly gay lawmaker. “The other side feels so threatened by something that is not a threat.”

But NOM leader Brown said voter anger here is in part driven by the refusal of lawmakers to let the public weigh in, even on a nonbinding referendum.

“I think New Hampshire is definitely pro-traditional marriage and ripe for our message,” Brown summed up.

Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 321-7040 or