New Hampshire’s town meeting voters set an example for the country

Update: 3/15/10 from New Hampshire Freedom to Marry.  The numbers to-date are: 88 towns and all 13 NH cities refused to take up the issue in the first place, while 70 towns that did voted against the anti-equality warrant article.  88 + 13 + 70 = 171 (73%) of New Hampshire’s 234 cities and towns stand for equality.  If you calculated this based on population, the percentage would be even higher.

Equality wins the popular vote with seventy towns having already rejected the anti-gay resolution. “Once again the people of New Hampshire have spoken and said we believe in equality and individual liberties and we do not believe in amending our constitution to take away peoples rights” said Mo Baxley, Executive Director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry.

Here is a list of seventy towns that rejected the resolution. This list does not include 88 of New Hampshire’s 231 towns and all of New Hampshire’s 13 cities that refused to take the issue up.

Alexandria ,Alstead, Andover, Antrim, Barrington, Bartlett, Bethlehem, Boscawen, Bow, Bradford, Brentwood, Brookfield, Brookline, Chesterfield, Chichester,.Colebrook, Deerfield Dublin, Easton, Franconia, Farmington, Gilsum, Goffstown, Greenland, Groveton, Hebron, Hillsborough, Holderness, Hollis, Jackson, Jaffrey, Kensington, Lee, Lincoln, Lisbon, Lyman, Lyndeborough, Marlborough, Marlow, Meredith, Monroe, Newbury, Nelson, New Durham, New Hampton, New London, Northumberland, Northwood, Nottingham, Ossipee, Pembroke, Plainfield, Plymouth, Rindge, Rumney, Rye, Salisbury, Sharon, Shelburne, Strathford, Stratham, Sugar Hill, Temple, Tuftonboro, Walpole, Westmoreland, Wilton, Winchester, Wolfeboro, Washington.

These results are totally consistent with UNH Survey Center polling that demonstrates 74% of New Hampshire citizens are not bothered by marriage equality. Opponents of equality having failed miserably in their effort. They have failed to reach a simple majority of New Hampshire voters let alone the 2/3 necessary.


You know, sometimes it’s great to be wrong.  Last week I was feeling gloomy after the first set of New Hampshire towns voted overwhelmingly for the non-binding petition (“warrant article”) that asked their state legislators to put an anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot.  Although most towns voting on March 9th did pass the bigoted article, I incorrectly extrapolated that result to the entire state.  How happy I am today to read that, as we factor in the results from towns that had town meeting yesterday, March 13th, 77% of New Hampshire towns and cities have rejected the call to put discrimination into their constitution!

Final numbers have yet to be posted, but here are the stats to-date:

  • According to the Union Leader, 133 of the New Hampshire’s 221 towns had the anti-marriage article in their town hall warrant.  This means that, from the start, 88 of New Hampshire’s towns refused to take the issue up in the first place.  That’s almost 40% of towns that couldn’t muster the few dozen people needed to sign a petition to place the anti-equality article on the warrant.
  • None of New Hampshire’s 13 cities entertained the question at all.
  • During earlier deliberative sessions, 15 towns amended their anti-equality warrants, rendering them meaningless or turning them into pro-equality statements.
  • Of the 133 towns voting on it, the warrant article’s sponsor reports that it passed in its original hate-mongering form in 53 towns and failed in 43 towns (23 towns via direct vote and 20 towns via tabling).

    Passing the article in only 53 towns out 234 towns and cities means that barely 23% of New Hampshire’s towns and cities voted to put discrimination in New Hampshire’s constitution.  In other words, 77% of towns and cities rejected institutionalized bigotry.  This is a resounding failure for the anti-equality activists because 2/3 of voters are needed to ratify an amendment to the New Hampshire constitution.  Clearly, when the New Hampshire House in February voted against the marriage equality repeal bill, and voted against the anti-equality constitutional amendment bill, they were quite faithfully representing their constituents.

    Was this all really just about marriage?  Dean Barker adds this perspective:

    The bottom line is: if this were an actual vote on a binding constitutional amendment, it would have been hugely unsuccessful. But let’s be clear on what this really is – the first effort from the state GOP to scare up social issue voters for November. Being bankrupt of ideas, and peddling the same economic policies that brought us to the brink when they were in charge, they’ve got to GOTV somehow.

    Below are reports from some of the town meetings held on Saturday, March 13th, as reported in the blogs and online Sunday papers.

    Update: Just wondering if NOM will also admit they were wrong in prematurely stating that “New Hampshire Voters WANT a Vote ON Marriage“.  
    * Chichester‘s warrant article FAILED 59-51 on a secret  ballot.

    * Dublin voted to TAKE NO ACTION on their article.

    * Greenland VOTED DOWN their article 37-33.  Accorging to Michael Marsh, and eye-witness:

    The issue was the 30th and last article up for a vote and came after 6 1/2 hours of debate on grave matters like putting aside $15K for the library construction fund, establishing a penalty for letting your bovines run lose, and setting a fee for fire inspections. Scintilating stuff.

    By the time Article 30 came up, many voters had left and most of the people still at the meeting were the old time townies and the pro-discrimination crowd. The vote was by secret ballot and I was sure it was going to pass.

    I was wrong. Those old timers surprised me. The philosophy of “you can do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t affect me” still lives in NH, I guess.

    What didn’t surprise me was the misleading comments by the pro-discrimination folks. The article wasn’t about gay marriage at all, their spokeswoman told us. Nosirree, not at all. It was about letting the people have a voice since we are supposed to be a democracy. She pointed out that the article didn’t even say what form of discrimination her group wanted, as if it was something they hadn’t yet thought about.


    * Hancock
    ‘s article FAILED by a wide margin, 102-32.  “It’s misleading how it’s written,” said resident Jane Eklund. “The sole purpose of this is to overturn marriage equality.”

    * Hollis killed their article by TABLING it on with a 96-62 vote.  “We go the extra mile to make sure citizens live the lives they wish.  It pains me to think that there is a slight possibility that the joy and fulfillment of my neighbors could be denied.” –Dan Murphy, of Farm Pond Lane

    * Jackson VOTED LOUDLY AGAINST bigotry.  “In the voice vote, less than ten people voted yes.  The NO vote shook the rafters.”

    * Jaffrey voted 81-67 to TAKE NO ACTION the article.  “I believe it has no relevance to town meeting or town government,” said Jaffrey resident Charlie Marvin.

    * Lyndeboro VOTED DOWN their article.

    * Marlow voters chose to “PASS OVER” the atricle.

    * New London‘s marriage article was DEFEATED.  From Blue Hampshire:

    New London GOP state rep David Kidder spoke at Town Meeting like the Yankee Republicans who used to hold sway in this state (boldface and any errors in transcription mine):
    Kidder yesterday said he told a “huge crowd” of about 250 people that repealing gay marriage would create a “legal quagmire” for couples who had originally gotten civil unions because of the way the gay marriage law was written.

    He also made a key point to the crowd about representative democracy.

    “We’re not a referendum state, nor should we be. The (New Hampshire) constitution is very clear that the power to make these decisions is with the Legislature, and certainly to take away someone’s rights in the constitution after the fact just seems to me to be absolutely wrong,” he said in a phone interview yesterday.

    Mind you, Rep. Kidder voter against marriage equality.

    Apparently there are some Republicans left in this state with respect for our civic institutions.

    Rep Kidder was one of 40 Republicans who voted in February against the repeal of the new marriage law via HB1590, and one of 30 Republicans voting against the proposed anti-equality constitutional amendment (CACR28).

    * Northwood voted 66-49 to INDEFINITELY POSTPONE the vote on their anti-marriage article.

    * Pembroke‘s article FAILED 79-60 even though voters cast secret ballots.  “There are an awful lot of things that are a lot more important right now,” said Arthoen Wolf. “This is New Hampshire. Live free or die.”

    * Pittsfield PASSED it’s discriminatory warrant article 79-36.

    * Plainfield CRUSHED the article on marriage by amending it to be pro-equality with a 185-40 vote, and then passing the amended version.  The amended version instructed the Selectboard to send a letter to the governor and state legislators “commending them for passing and signing into law legislation affirming marriage equality for all New Hampshire residents.”

    “We see this not as an issue of voting rights, but rather as an issue of civil rights,” said Richard Atkinson, speaking on behalf of a coalition of Plainfield residents opposed to the article.

    “Rather than possibly sending a vague and misunderstood message to our elected representatives, we wish to send a message that states that we as a town affirm and celebrate marriage equality.”

    “If marriage is the cornerstone of society, then I want a piece of that cornerstone.  I got one ‘yes’ — now I have to get hundreds more?” –Michael Blumenauer, gay man accompanied by his fiance, Marty Favor, who he plans to wed Jan. 15, 2011.

    “I was pleased to get to cast the [pro-equality legislative] vote and I would do it again,” –State Sen. Matt Houde, (D-Plainfield)

    “Gay and lesbian people suffer not because of who they are but because of who we are,” –Gretchen Cherington, “mother of a straight son and a gay daughter”

    “In a way, they got what they wanted.  The people of this town voted and we affirmed the right to marry is a civil right.”  –Rev. John Gregory-Davis of the Meriden Congregational Church, speaking of the anti-equality warrant sponsors

    * Stafford TABLED their article by an almost unanimous vote.

    * Stratham voted overwhelmingly to TABLE its article.  “The moderator had to ask folks not to clap so much after the speakers so we could keep the meeting going.”

    * Temple TABLED their article.

    * Walpole KILLED THEIR ARTICLE on a voice vote.

    * Westmorland PASSED OVER the vote, “having no wish even to dignify the same with a more formal vote on the ‘merits’.”.

    * Wilton TABLED INDEFINITELY their marriage article  “after some discussion because voters agreed it was an inappropriate question for a town warrant.  Selectman Dan Donovan said putting the definition into the constitution would be “a permanent monument to bigotry.””.

    Related:

  • New Hampshire town meetings choosing not to vote on marriage, but it ain’t over yet
  • Londonderry, NH council reverses itself and OK’s anti-equality marriage vote
  • 2 Months Into NH Marriage Law Going Into Effect, The Fight Now Goes To Town Meetings
  • New Hampshire key marriage vote on Wednesday. Rep. Elliott recants her outrageous lie
  • BREAKING: New Hampshire House KILLS the anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment AND bill

    Cross-posted at Pam’s House Blend.

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    • bloomingpol

      It is good to see and I will forward to my gay friends, neighbors and colleagues.  I think many misunderstood what this was about, even in my town that indefinitely postponed it (for those who don”t know, that effectively means it was killed, dead).  

    • JonnyBBad
    • Dean Barker

      voted strongly against, by voice vote.

      Gauging from the non-voice vote on the budget shortly before, there were around 100-110 people in the room at the time.

    • lsmacgregor

      Great summary Love Child.  How do we get this info out to the nation?  Other state referenda have garnered a significant amount of attention from the national press.  And though this is not a true referendum in a procedural sense, it does show the leanings of the populace on this issue.

      • Love Child

        if they’ve heard about this.  Tomorrow, ask 5 more, and don’t assume anyone who “should” know, will!  You can also spread the word via facebook, twitter, emails, blogs, chat rooms, your community news bulletin, and…sidewalk chalk! :D

    • brianrater

      It was defeated (passed over) on a voice vote by about 3-1 in Brookline.  There was a loud round of applause after the vote.  I’m very proud of my town!  :-)

    • BurtCohen

      Looks like a winning strategy to me!
      Conservatives and everyone else rejects it.

      Every Republican running for anything can and should be tarred with this clumsy hateful effort.

      NH comes through again–Let’s not fail to remind voters in November what the GOP has become.

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