CONCORD, New Hampshire, January 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The battle over same-sex “marriage” is starting to heat up, with proponents trying to legalize it in two states, and pro-family advocates hoping to enact repeal of gay “marriage” legislation in another.
Gay rights activists are planning to capitalize on the addition of two more Democrats in the Maryland State Senate to attempt to legalize same-sex “marriage” in the next legislative session.
“We’ve been marching in this direction for a while now,” Democratic state Delegate Heather Mizeur told CNN.
Mizeur, an openly homosexual legislator, said that marriage is the next logical step in the long expansion of rights for homosexuals in the state. “It just took a little while to get us there, but we’re seizing the moment. It’s our time,” the delegate said.
Democrats have supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, and Democrat Governor Martin O’Malley has already stated his intention to sign the bill into law if passed.
Should same-sex “marriage” become legal in Maryland, pro-family advocates would have recourse to the referendum process. Collecting 55,000 signatures would put the issue to a popular vote in 2012.
Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee kicked off a renewed drive for gay “marriage” in his January 4 inauguration address, claiming that legalizing it would bring economic benefits to the state. Two days later, a bill was introduced in the House.
Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence fired back at Chafee in a public statement on January 7, stating that it was “particularly disturbing” that the governor was undermining his own call for unity by adopting “a very divisive agenda item as one of his first priorities.”
The Catholic bishop blasted the proposal as “morally wrong and detrimental to the well-being of our state.” He said legislators had a duty to work on economic improvement and job creation, not to undermine an institution “so basic to the social fabric of our community and the well-being of our families, especially our children.”
“The frenetic rush to legalize the marriage of homosexuals will accomplish none of the above,” Tobin said.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) also launched an ad campaign on Tuesday targeting Chafee, saying he did not have a mandate from the voters to enact same-sex “marriage” legislation, and that over 80 percent of voters would prefer to decide the matter themselves. Chafee won last November’s race with 36 percent of the vote in a race against 7 other candidates.
So far, just five states have made same-sex “marriage” legal: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa. It is also legal in Washington, D.C.
But in New Hampshire, pro-family proponents believe they can make their state the first to repeal same-sex “marriage” legislation through the legislature.
Republicans swept into control of the Statehouse in the November 2010 electoral wave and have veto-proof majorities there. While GOP leaders have not included repeal on their list of legislative priorities this year, true marriage supporters say it will come up.
“The gay marriage issue will come up at the appropriate time,” Kevin Smith, Executive Director of the conservative group Cornerstone Action, told the Boston Globe.
Smith said if it did not happen this year, it would happen next year.
State Rep. David Bates (R-Windham), who has sponsored a repeal bill, told the Globe that a vote on repeal will happen soon, but that job creation and the economy were the first order of business.
“Leadership simply announced their top priorities. There was no suggestion they’re against this or we’re divided,” he said.
Bates’s bill would ban same-sex “marriage”, but not change the legal status of the same-sex unions performed since January 1, 2010 when the law went into effect. He also plans to submit a constitutional amendment, but that would only get to the ballot box for voter approval by 2012.
Democrats enacted same-sex “marriage” legislation in 2009, which was then signed by Democrat Gov. John Lynch. The governor has pledged to veto any repeal legislation, but he would have to get four GOP senators, 32 GOP House representatives, and retain every single Democrat in both chambers, in order to have his veto sustained.