I just arrived in downtown Concord, where the Judiciary Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives is scheduled to hold hearings on two bills aimed at repealing the state's gay marriage law starting at 10:30 AM today. With the early stages of New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary already under way, the timing of the repeal could prove awkward for Republican Party.
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, who's sponsored one of the bills, wants to push the repeal off until next year. He's probably hoping the delay will make gay marriage a non-issue in the 2012 New Hampshire primary. Sponsors of the second bill don't want to wait. They are expected to push for a vote on repealing gay marriage this year at today's hearing.
There are early signs that gay and lesbian Republicans won't be giving their party a free pass on core gay rights issues like same sex marriage and Don't Ask Don't Tell in 2012. Openly gay GOP presidential hopeful Fred Karger is making his 12th trip to New Hampshire this week. Karger wants to make gay marriage the law of the land, a position that puts him at odds with the Republican Party establishment. He plans to testify against both gay marriage repeal bills at today's committee hearing in Concord. Last week, the Log Cabin Republicans took an early shot at Tim Pawlenty after he threatened to reinstate Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Internal strife over the issue of gay marriage could make things interesting for Republican presidential candidates as they seek to hit the ground running in the Granite State. Candidates who publicly oppose same sex marriage could already face protest from local progressives. The last thing they need is dissent from within their own party.
I'll be posting live reports from Concord today as gay marriage repeal hearings get underway at the State House. Stay tuned!