Jim Cole/AP
Gov. John Lynch, D-N.H.

NH Governor Has Days to Make Decision on Gay Marriage

May 11, 2009 04:25 PM
by Rachel Balik
Gov. John Lynch has previously voiced opposition to gay marriage; will he sign New Hampshire’s gay marriage bill, or passively allow it to become law?

Governor of New Hampshire Must Veto, Sign or Allow Gay Marriage Bill

On Wednesday, May 6, the House of Representatives in New Hampshire voted in favor of a gay marriage bill by a count of 178-167. The state Senate had approved the same bill earlier. According to the state constitution, Gov. John Lynch has five days (excluding Sunday) to sign or veto the bill once it reaches his desk. If he has still not taken any action, the bill will simply become a law, the Dartmouth reported last week.

Although many news sources were under the impression that the five days would be up this Tuesday, the Nashua Telegraph reports that the bill has not yet officially landed on the governor's desk, as it is still missing several key signatures.

Lynch is known to be opposed to gay marriage, and has stated in the past that civil unions should be sufficient. However, he has made no comment about what he will do since the law passed in the legislature last week. In a statement to the press, Lynch promised to discuss the law with legislature and his constituents. Although Democrats assert that most people support gay marriage, opponents to gay marriage are urging Lynch to stand by his earlier statements.

A columnist for the Boston Herald suggests that if Lynch decided to simply do nothing, the law would pass and he might avoid taking a strong stance for either side. In the meantime, Lynch is being bombarded by advocates on both sides.

Background: More state lawmakers approve gay marriage

Maine’s bill supporting gay marriage passed in its state legislature the same day as New Hampshire’s did. Maine Gov. John Baldacci immediately signed the bill into law. The voting margin was not large enough to have defeated a veto; however, the Boston Herald columnist suggests that the margin was large enough to convince Gov. Baldacci “not to deny the popular will.” A CNN article notes that Baldacci did say that he expected some people in the state to challenge the law and that it might eventually be overturned.

Baldacci was the first governor to sign such a bill independent of a court ruling, The Boston Globe reported. Like Lynch, Baldacci had previously expressed his personal opposition to gay marriage and shared the neighboring governor’s stance on the adequacy of civil unions. Baldacci eventually said that signing the bill was “a matter of fairness.”

Related Topic: Must Obama take a stance on gay rights?

President Barack Obama faces similar challenges as Lynch on the subject of gay marriage and gay rights. According to The New York Times, he has not taken a stance or issued any detailed public statements about recent developments in state laws regarding gay marriage. For example, the White House response to the Iowa law was simply that that “the president ‘respects the decision.’” In the past, President Obama has said both that he is in favor of equal rights for gays and that his Christian beliefs prevent him from supporting gay marriage.

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