They just opened the doors to Representatives Hall at the State House, where the Judiciary Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives is set to hear testimony on two bills - HB 437 and 443 - aimed at repealing New Hampshire's gay marriage law. Republican lawmakers will face opposition to the repeal from within their own party when openly gay presidential hopeful Fred Karger, a longtime GOP operative, takes to the mike to voice his opposition to both bills. Stay tuned for more updates and video live from the Granite State.
Update: 10:30 AM
Full house here at the State House in Concord, with the vast majority of the crowd wearing red, signifying their opposition to Republican sponsored bills aimed at repealing New Hampshire's gay marriage law. Major show of strength for gay marriage supporters just one year before the state's first-in-the nation GOP presidential primary:
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee just announced this hearing will continue to the "wee hours of the morning" if necessary, evoking an outburst of applause from the decidedly pro-gay marriage audience. Given the number of people here to testify, he might be right. The Chairman also asked for civility, noting that marriage itself is proof that good people can disagree and still get along.
Update 11:15 AM
The sponsors of HB 437 and 443 just made the case for their respective bills. Representative David Bates (R-Windham), the sponsor of HB 437, asked the committee to put his bill on retainer until next year. Gay marriage supporters erupted in applause when one committee member asked Bates to comment on the role the law should play in protecting minority rights.
Update 11:22 AM
Differing points of view on religion and the definition of marriage as state Reps and Senators (past and present) testify first at the gay marriage repeal hearing in Concord.
Update 11:30 AM
A third bill, HB 569, is also up for discussion today's hearing. The bill's Republican sponsors seem to want to take the definition of marriage out of government's hands. They advocate for making domestic unions the sole means for regulating relationships between individuals, regardless of gender. I suggest reading the text of the bill to learn more.
Update 11:45 AM
Craig Stowell, a Republican ex-marine from Claremont, just broke down in tears as he testified against repealing gay marriage in New Hampshire. His brother is gay. Struggling to control his emotions, Stowell told the committee that no one has the right to tell his brother who he can and can't marry. Naturally, I forgot to hit the record button on my Flip cam before he took the mike.
Update 11:55 AM
Kevin Smith, Director of Cornerstone Action, is testifying in favor of repealing New Hampshire's gay marriage law. He's arguing that homosexual relationships do not produce children. Now he's refusing to take questions from the committee, resulting in a chorus of boos from gay marriage supporters.
Update 12:45 PM
Internet at the State House is intolerably slow today, making it hard to both post video in close to real time and provide regular updates on the proceedings. In the interest of capturing as much video of the testimony as I can, I'll be focusing on collecting footage and posting it later, but will post text updates from time to time. Too much testimony too cover it all!
The past hour of testimony has seen a surprising number of clergy/pastors standing up to support gay marriage in New Hampshire.
Update 1:06 PM
Just saw Governor John Lynch in the hallway outside Representatives Hall, where testimony on legislation to repeal New Hampshire's gay marriage law continues. Will he testify today? No sign of the governor in the room yet.
Update 1:34 PM
I've recorded so much testimony that the old Flip cam has kicked the can! Meanwhile, an opponent of gay marriage just quoted Mitt Romney in her testimony.
Update 2:33 PM
Had to exit hearing early, with many hours left of testimony remaining. Will be posting video highlights from the first 4 hours ASAP. Tons of great footage. Stay tuned!