Maggie's Report from New Hampshire


Just returned from the magnificent state house in Concord, New Hampshire.

The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, dapper and bow-tied, was a rare combination of humor and dignity. “This is the most democratic legislature in the United States,” he said, “we are the third-largest democratic body in the world.” As all of us speaker’s tended to get long-winded he also jumped in with things like “The Chairman’s Motto: “Nicer is concise.”

And he began with a joke: “Obviously good people can disagree, otherwise there would never be any marriages at all!”

Kevin Smith, leader of the local family policy council Cornerstone, gave a great testimony.

My favorite Kevin Smith line: “The sky didn’t fall in 2008 when the voters repealed same-sex marriage. The sky didn’t fall in Maine either the next year in 2009, when the voters repealed gay marriage passed by the legislature.”

I began by thanking the chairman for asking for a debate that was not just civil but “friendly.” The state house, the chamber, the crowds, the looming giant portraits of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and other more local heroes (excuse me a minute I’m going to Google "John Hale").

“What unites us as Americans is greater than what divides us—even across as great a divide as this” I said.

“The majority of courts, as well as the majority of people, have rejected the idea that gay marriage is a right. Why? It is not discrimination to treat different things differently. Our historic understanding of marriage is not discriminatory—I realize many people here disagree-but that is our actual position.

Marriage is the union of husband and wife for a reason: these are the only unions that make new life and connect those children in love to their mother and father.

Marriage addresses a unique problem and offers a unique opportunity—and in both ways the public good is involved in these unions in a distinct way.

My three minutes was almost up so I did not get a chance to say to the handful of conservative Republican legislators pushing to get government out of the marriage business: “This is not the reason that individual couples marry, necessarily, but it is necessarily the reason why the government is in the marriage business. The close relationships between marriage and regulating procreation explains what is otherwise inexplicable: why the government is in the love business at all.”