Bil Browning

Will NH Governor sign same-sex marriage bill?

Filed By Bil Browning | May 07, 2009 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, Gov John Lynch, Judd Gregg, Maine, marriage equality, New Hampshire, New Jersey, same-sex marriage

With all the hoopla over Maine becoming the fifth state to allow same-sex marriage (and the first to do it without passing civil unions or domestic partnerships first), the news that New Hampshire's House of Representatives passed marriage quality legislation got buried. The bill has already passed the state senate and now goes to Governor John Lynch for a signature. Lynch has not indicated if he will veto the bill, sign it, or allow it to become law without his signature. He has ten days to decide, but the decision will be based on politics and not dedication to civil rights.

In theory, Lynch is a lame duck who would have nothing to lose politically by signing the bill. New Hampshire has no official term limits, but tradition dictates that governors serve no more than three terms. And Lynch, who was elected in a squeaker in 2004 and then re-elected by enormous margins in 2006 and 2008, is now in his third term. But there's nothing to prevent him from trying to stick around...

Tellingly, he's refused to rule out running again in 2010 (even as he's adamantly dismissed the idea of running for Judd Gregg's soon-to-be open Senate seat). Clearly, he's eyeing a fourth term--meaning that he has to tread very carefully on the same-sex marriage bill.

Lynch is notoriously cautious and risk-averse; it's not hard to imagine him vetoing the bill and to justify it by saying it's what he'd previously promised voters he'd do. But polling will almost certainly play a role, too, and if Lynch detects wide public support for the bill, it would be much easier for him to sign it.

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