For the second time in as many weeks, the Union Leader tried to spin the anti-marriage petition effort’s massive fail in a misleading direction. Their effort today was so one-sided it felt like I was reading a Cornerstone release verbatim.
Cornerstone/LetNHVote The UL would have you believe that there is almost a 2/3rds majority support for writing discrimination into our constitution. Instead of dignifying that misleading spin with a verbal response, here’s a map that Granite State Progress put together. The towns that rejected the article, as well as those where the anti-marriagers couldn’t even scratch up the requisite petition signatures, are in blue, while those towns where it passed are in green (not passed by the 2/3rds needed for a constitutional amendment, mind you, just the sum of those passed):
And for those who prefer charts to pictures, here’s webpage with a spreadsheet of the results.
Let’s be clear here, since the Union Leader, and, to my dismay, plenty of other false equivalence pieces in other state media organs won’t:
* The anti-marriage crowd couldn’t even get on the ballot in 73 communities (and wasn’t on the ballot in 13 cities, which don’t have non-binding warrant resolutions).
* Where it did, it was rejected in 80 communities and adopted in 59.
As Granite State Progress’ report on this details (below the fold, required reading), it is not clear to what extent the National Organization for Marriage was behind this effort in strategy and funding. What is clear, however, is that town by town, our great state said no to this obviously coordinated movement to strip the rights away from some of our tax-paying, patriotic citizens in the Live Free or Die state.
For Immediate Release Contact: Zandra Rice Hawkins
Thursday, March 18, 2010 603-892-2150
New Hampshire Sends Strong Message: Marriage Equality is Here to Stay
Attempt to vote to discriminate an epic failure in NH
Concord, NH – New Hampshire towns have resoundingly rejected the vote to discriminate – an attempt to pressure for a statewide vote aimed at repealing marriage equality. In direct contrast to the intent of the town meeting petition campaign, voters sent a clear message that the people of New Hampshire do not vote to take away the rights of their neighbors. Results show:
· An astounding 80 towns rejected the vote to discriminate thus far – versus 59 towns who passed it. The facts completely undermine marriage equality opponent’s claims that the people of New Hampshire are calling for a vote.
· To put it another way, 57.5% of communities with the petition said NO to voting to take away the rights of others, compared to a mere 42.4% who voted yes.
In addition, another 86 communities – 37% of New Hampshire towns – did not even discuss the petition.
“Once we educated people about the true intent of the vote to discriminate, New Hampshire responded with such force that there is no doubt marriage equality is here to stay in the Granite State,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, director of the organization Granite State Progress. “Anti-equality organizations like the National Organization for Marriage and Cornerstone Policy Research should be ashamed for pushing a misleading resolution in New Hampshire, and embarrassed for claiming a victory before they looked at the numbers. We have a strong tradition of civil liberties here and marriage equality is no exception in the Live Free or Die state.”
Granite State Progress and its members, along with groups NH Freedom to Marry and PFLAG, have worked over the last three months to run an education campaign on the town meeting article.
“The grassroots effort and resulting success was made possible by the countless communities who came together to challenge the vote to discriminate and send a strong message that in New Hampshire, we don’t vote on taking away the rights of our fellow citizens,” Rice Hawkins said.
A constitutional amendment to define marriage, CACR 28, was also defeated at the New Hampshire State House in February 2010, by a margin of 201-135.
Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.
nhban1New Hampshire Town Meeting: A Guide to What Happened with the Marriage Petition
On January 4, 2010, a press conference was held at the New Hampshire State House to announce an effort to pressure for passage of CACR 28 (since defeated) through non-binding town meeting resolutions stating: The citizens of New Hampshire should be allowed to vote on an amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution that defines “marriage.” Otherwise known as the Vote to Discriminate, the outcome of the town meeting petitions has been difficult to track and understand at the state level. We hope the following narrative is helpful to you as you share with your readership just what happened. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Zandra Rice Hawkins, Granite State Progress, at (603) 892-2150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Facts from New Hampshire Town Meetings
· There are 221 towns in New Hampshire that can have petitioned articles
· Let NH Vote attempted to put the petition forward in every community, but it could not find even 25 people in support of their mission in 73 towns
· This excludes the 13 cities – and major population centers – that don’t have non-binding warrant resolutions, which means that a combined 86 communities – or 37% of New Hampshire towns – did not discuss the petition
· Out of the 148 towns that do have the petitioned warrant article -
o 9 towns won’t take up the issue until later this Spring
o 139 have considered it thus far -
§ 33 refused to vote on the rights of others, killing the petition
§ 47 refused to even entertain voting on the rights of others, tabling or amending the language to kill the petition
The overall outcome is that 80 communities so far have rejected the vote to discriminate. Only 59 communities passed it.
To put it another way, 57.6% of communities with the petition said NO to voting to take away the rights of others. A mere 42.4% said yes.
A constitutional amendment would require a 2/3 majority of votes across the state. What’s more, Rep. David Bates, Rep. Al Baldasaro, Cornerstone Policy Research, and the National Organization for Marriage – all under the guise of “Let NH Vote” – could not even garner enough support to get on the ballot in 73 communities. These results show that not only is New Hampshire supportive of marriage equality, the overwhelming reaction from communities is that we should not vote on the rights of others.
Why are these tallies different from Let NH Vote?
Let NH Vote was out-organized in several communities that rejected the very idea of a vote to discriminate. Many New Hampshire residents believe it is wrong to vote on the rights of others, and that doing so sets a dangerous precedent. Some communities chose to amend the original petition language or “table” the motion altogether-both moves were public stands against voting on the rights of others.
Rep. David Bates, Rep. Al Baldasaro, Kevin Smith with Cornerstone Policy Research, and the National Organization for Marriage (also known as “Let NH Vote”) are upset that these communities saw through their misleading language and rejected it outright. Because they don’t like the outcome, “Let NH Vote” simply doesn’t acknowledge those towns. The ‘Complete Results’ listing on letnhvote.com lists only 92 towns – completely ignoring the results for an alarming 47 towns!
How did this organizing effort happen?
“Let NH Vote” – which never revealed its funding source for the thousands of slick yard signs or 5 versions of bumper stickers – promoted itself as a grassroots organization led solely by State Representative David Bates.
However, according to the blog of the National Organization for Marriage, the national anti-marriage group has been involved since October:
Another last bit of good news: New Hampshire Rep. David Bates has taken the initiative to organize a movement to get a marriage amendment on the ballot in New Hampshire.”Let’s make New Hampshire #31,” he says, meaning the 31st state to pass a state marriage amendment…If you live in New Hampshire, or know someone who cares about marriage who does, please email this info to us at email@example.com. We will pass it on to Rep. Bates. [National Organization for Marriage, Blog, 10/9/09]
And Cornerstone Policy Research – which hovered at the “Let NH Vote” launch press conference but said they were not involved when asked pointblank by Granite State Progress …
Yesterday, at a press conference held by Representative David Bates (R-Windham), it was announced that over the last few months, he has been working on a grassroots effort to have citizens in each town in NH, petition their towns to put the following NON-BINDING question on each town ballot or at each town hall meeting: [Cornerstone Policy Research, Blog, 1/6/2010]
… now admits that they were intimately involved in the organizing (and, one could presume, funding) of the town meeting drive:
Following the March 9 elections the organization that put the resolution on ballots and Town Meeting warrants around the state – the Cornerstone Policy Research, using the Web address LetNHVote.org – claimed the support the resolution got was an indication that citizens want the right to vote on the issue of defining marriage in New Hampshire. [Hampton Union, 3/16/10]
In contrast, the effort to protect equality in New Hampshire involved a large grassroots movement of marriage equality supporters and civil rights advocates from across the state.
Granite State Progress, NH Freedom to Marry and others researched town meeting information and helped local activists create community campaign plans, which involved reaching out to friends and family and, in some communities, grassroots fundraising to run ads listing the hundreds of people in opposition to the warrant article [ad copies available upon request].
Our opposition to the petition was at a clear disadvantage in a number of ways – we did not have funding for a statewide campaign, we had to research town meeting information for hundreds of towns while “Let NH Vote” knew exactly when and where the petitions would show up, we couldn’t publicly post our strategy and engage more advocates without giving away key details, and we had a little more than a month from the announcement of “Let NH Vote” to the start of the first town meeting.
And yet, because of the strength of local organizing and New Hampshire’s strong commitment to civil rights for all, we won.
Will this be an issue on Election Day?
Since “Let NH Vote” publicly announced they had petition drives in every New Hampshire town except the 13 cities that do not have a town meeting, it’s clear that they were unable to collect enough petitions in 73 communities. In most communities you only need 25 signatures to get a petition on the ballot–not a high hurdle if people believe strongly that they should be able to vote on the rights of others. The fact that Representatives Bates and Baldasaro and their institutional funders were unable to collect petitions in these towns – and then lost the majority of towns that did consider the issue – undercuts their theory that there will be a reckoning come Election Day in November.
If anything, marriage equality opponents should be nervous.
What does this all mean?
Our state stood strong for equal rights for all New Hampshire families.
The bottom line is that people saw through “Let NH Vote’s” misleading effort. The effort to repeal marriage equality through a public vote was a massive failure as the majority of New Hampshire communities refused to vote on the rights of others.
You are welcome to quote anything in this narrative and attribute it to Zandra Rice Hawkins, director of Granite State Progress. We also have the contact information for many of the local community leaders who made this success possible, which we are happy to share upon request
A Few Quotes from Around New Hampshire
Monadnock Region: “I am personally very proud of the many citizens of the Monadnock Region who voted to maintain the civil rights of their neighbors,” said Bobbie Barry, Northeast Regional Director for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) chapter and a local volunteer organizer for the town meeting campaign in her area. “PFLAG believes that society at large benefits from an environment that supports committed stable relationships, including same-gender committed relationships, which provide mutual emotional, social, financial, legal and medical support. We completely support extending persons in same-gender committed relationships the right to marry with the full legal rights and benefits, as well as responsibilities and obligations.” [PFLAG NH]
Winchester: Winchester resident Mary Gannon told her neighbors, “It is a mockery to take away the rights of others under the guise of the right to vote. I encourage my fellow community members to vote yes on this amendment because the warrant article, as currently worded, encourages our community to vote to discriminate.” [Granite State Progress]
Bethlehem: “Despite all the protestations to the contrary, the underlying purpose of this movement is to discriminate against gays,” Bethlehem resident David Wood said at his deliberative session. “We do not discriminate against our neighbors here. Many years ago, Bethlehem ended its discrimination against Jewish people and we are not about to go back there again. Not in this town, not tonight.” [Granite State Progress]
Deerfield: At yesterday’s meeting, residents voted to strike the proposed resolution by a 92-28 vote, Hooker said. Deerfield resident Jim Deely, 36, made the motion to amend the warrant article to take out all but two words, effectively rending it null and void. “It’s clearly a statewide, divisive end-around to try to impose individuals’ religious and moral views on others,” Deely said. [Concord Monitor]
Hollis: In response, Dan Murphy, of Farm Pond Lane, said the state Legislature was “acting in the best traditions of New Hampshire” when it approved gay marriage. “We go the extra mile to make sure citizens live the lives they wish,” he said. “It pains me to think that there is a slight possibility that the joy and fulfillment of my neighbors could be denied. “In 20 or 30 years, such an amendment would be as unthinkable” as an amendment to forbid marriage between races. [Nashua Telegraph]
Hancock: A petitioned article that would advise state lawmakers that New Hampshire residents should be permitted to weigh in on an amendment to the state constitution defining “marriage” failed, also in a ballot vote, 102-32. “It’s misleading how it’s written,” said resident Jane Eklund. “The sole purpose of this is to overturn marriage equality.” [Keene Sentinel]
Plainfield: “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.” [Valley News]
Farmington: Farmington resident Richard Stanley, who is a police officer in Newington, addressed the issue. “I am a good person and I pay my taxes,” he said, acknowledging that he was married to another man. “It is absolutely disgusting that someone put this on the warrant to limit my civil rights. Personal business has no place at town meeting.” He went on to list the rights granted him through marriage … A motion was then made from the floor to table the article, and the 55 voters who were still in attendance overwhelmingly approved of doing so, which meant no action was taken. [Fosters]
Stratham: “I’m one of the few people in this community who this amendment would have a direct affect on,” said Michael Perfit, a gay Stratham resident who addressed the crowd at Town Meeting and urged them to vote the amendment down. “I grew up in the South and I am old enough to remember separate bathrooms for black people, them being relegated to the back of the bus, and blacks and whites being denied the right to marry each other,” he said. “Discrimination hurts all of us.” [Portsmouth Herald]