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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Representative Susan Emerson of Rindge an other attendees of Windham representative David Bates' State House rally against same-sex marriage sing and recite the Pledge of Allegiance Tuesday, February 7, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Windham representative David Bates organized a State House rally against same-sex marriage Tuesday, February 7, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Windham representative David Bates organized a State House rally against same-sex marriage Tuesday, February 7, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Ovide Lamontagne attended Tuesday's rally.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Attendees of Windham representative David Bates' State House rally against same-sex marriage sing and recite the Pledge of Allegiance Tuesday, February 7, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Sign holders outside of the rally in Concord Tuesday, February 7, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Attendees at the State House rally against same-sex marriage Tuesday, February 7, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Part of the State House rally against same-sex marriage Tuesday, February 7, 2012.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rally draws 250 to NH Statehouse to protest same-sex marriage

CONCORD – About 250 social conservatives loudly applauded the vow of legislative and church leaders to repeal New Hampshire’s 2-year-old, same-sex marriage law Tuesday.

Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, led the quickly thrown-together “Marriage-Naturally: One Man, One Woman” rally outside the Statehouse.

The event was clearly aimed at building momentum for a showdown vote on repeal legislation expected later this month in the House of Representatives.

“We do not have to sit back and accept this new illegitimate definition of marriage,” said Bates, prime author of the bill (HB 437) who recently bankrolled a mail campaign to try to pressure his colleagues to support it.

House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, said while his leadership’s top priority was balancing the state budget and helping to create jobs, restoring the traditional view of marriage needs to happen now.

“This is the right debate; this is the right time,” O’Brien said. “We must vote back and give traditional marriage back to our families and to our children.”

While O’Brien was speaking, Marcia Blackman of Concord stood behind the supportive crowd to register a protest at the top of her lungs.

“Why do you hate me?” Blackman cried. “Why do you hate my family?”

Gov. John Lynch became the only sitting governor to sign a same-sex marriage law in 2009 and vowed to veto any move to undo it.

Ovide Lamontagne, Republican candidate for governor, said opposition to same-sex marriage is a bipartisan issue, noting President Barack Obama opposes making it legal across the U.S.

If elected, Lamontange vowed to carry this fight forward and ultimately sign a repeal law.

Jean-Mark Ledoux, a 20-year-old University of New Hampshire student, heaped scorn on Lynch who campaigned against same-sex marriage only to sign it after Democrats took control of the Legislature in 2006 and 2008.

“The turncoat governor signed it faster than you could say two-faced,” Ledoux said.

Gay rights supporters said they were not impressed by the crowd and noted recent polling shows voters are satisfied with the current law by a 2-1 margin.

“The public fully supports civil rights for everyone,” said the Rev. Gene Robinson, a former bishop of the Episcopal Church who is openly gay.

Sean Owen, chairman of New Hampshire Republicans for Freedom and Equality PAC, said the national, $250,000 marketing campaign to repeal this law has failed.

“Despite mailings, robo calls and the desperate pleas from the National Organization for Marriage in Washington, D.C., Rep. Bates couldn’t even muster up a respectable crowd,” Owen said in a statement. “It’s time for this obsession to end. The marriage equality law is popular; people don’t want it repealed.”

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court struck down a 2008 referendum in which California repealed a same-sex marriage law. The U.S. Supreme Court will likely be called upon to settle the voter question’s constitutionality.

The organizer of the successful referendum repealing same-sex marriage in Maine urged his like-minded neighbors here to keep fighting.

Bob Emrich is Northeast ambassador for church ministries for the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

“I want to tell you that you can win this struggle,” Emrich declared. “This is nowhere near over, and I believe you will win.”

Bates vowed his cause will succeed whether it’s this year in the Legislature or, more likely, if voters elect a Republican to replace a retiring Lynch this fall.

“We are here to say, you should not mess with marriage,” Bates said.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com.

Also, check out Kevin Landrigan (@KLandrigan) on Twitter and don’t forget The Telegraph’s new, interactive live feed at www.nashuatelegraph.com/topics/livefeed.