More than 200 activists, legislators, and rallied at the in support of HB 437, a bill that would return the state to civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.
State Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, a sponsor of the bill, commended everyone for showing up in the middle of the day to . He said it was a reflection of “New Hampshire families who understand what marriage is, the union of one man and one woman.” The rally was put together to counter a planned press conference by the which was later cancelled, he said.
Bates spoke a number of times from leaflets handed out by the organization calling it “propaganda” and “disingenuous.” He said the election of 2010 was a mandate in the state against those elected officials who changed the marriage laws.
“This is the same Legislature that made an absolutely disaster out of our state’s finances,” he said. “This new Legislature passed a balance budget without raising any taxes, without raising any fees on you.”
Bates highlighted the reinstatement of the parental notification law, the repeal of the LLC tax, and the campground tax, as accomplishments by a Legislature that is attacked by Democrats and other activists in the state.
During the rally, one counter demonstrator appeared yelling, “Why do you hate me and my family?” The woman continued and after a few minutes, pro-traditional marriage supporters began to talk to her. Some held religious signs while others asked her to be more respectful. As she grew louder, other people at the rally began to yell back at her, “We don’t! We love you!”
The rally, which lasted an hour and 45 minutes, featured House Speaker , R-Mont Vernon, , a Republican running for governor, the Rev. Bob Emrich, chairman of the Christian Civic League in Maine, the group that ran the anti-same-sex marriage referendum, , a RNC committeewoman, and others.
“We also have to solve the problems caused by these social attacks that we’ve seen in the last four years on families in New Hampshire,” O’Brien said. “We seek a very respectful debate, we hope that it remains a respectful debate. But we must vote back marriages for our children.”
Emrich said the people of New Hampshire should not be scared into backing down. He said all the powerful political people in Maine told activists to move on. Instead, they put a referendum on the ballot and the people overturned same-sex marriage.
“It has nothing to do with hating anyone,” he said. “It is exactly the opposite. Don’t be intimidated, don’t be frightened, just stand for what’s right.”
Supporters of the watched the rally from another part of the grounds and were scheduled to hold a press availability with the Rev. Eugene Robinson but he had an appointment and had to leave.
About an hour after the rally, Sean Owen, the chairman of the New Hampshire Republicans for Freedom and Equality PAC, criticized Bates for being unable to “even muster up a respectable crowd” at the rally, despite funding from both local and national organizations.
“It's time for this obsession to end,” he said, in a press release. “The marriage equality law is popular, people don't want it repealed. Let's stop this charade now and get back to the business of New Hampshire."
A couple hours after the rally, a court in California struck down the Proposition 8 referendum law that the state approved to rescind its same-sex marriage law.