msnbc News   |  March 21, 2012

Marriage equality under threat of repeal in New Hampshire

Msnbc’s Thomas Roberts talk with Brian Brown, President of National Organization for Marriage, and Craig Stowell, Co-Chair of Stand Up for NH Families, about the movement underway in New Hampshires favoring civil unions in order to stop same-sex marriage.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the fight for marriage equality making more headlines. in new hampshire where there is a push now to repeal legislation that legalizes it and in a strange twist, opponents of marriage equality now appear to be embracing civil unions . joining me from new hampshire is craig stoll, the republican co-chair of stand up for new hampshire families. and in philadelphia, brian brown , president of the national organization for marriage. gentlemen, good to have you here. i want to start out with you, craig . talk about the push that's taking place right now in new hampshire potentially to repeal this 2-year-old law giving marriage equality law to new hampshire residents.

>> right now as it stands, we have the freedom to marry in new hampshire . as a former marine and someone who served in iraq, i tell you i don't take freedom lightly. for me, this is a very personal fight. i have a gay brother who happens to be my best friend . the godfather to my daughter. and when i got married, he was standing right there next to me as my best man. and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. and i want to be there for him when he has that very same experience.

>> the great thing about new hampshire , the model being " live free or die ," new hampshireites believe in that. now, the organization does support civil unions for the state of new hampshire . explain the switch.

>> the reality is that this bill takes us back to the status quo before special interest groups from out of state put a lot of money into the new hampshire legislature to redefine marriage. so what this bill does is simply take us back to the status quo before where you did have civil unions . we support the legislature writing this great rung. the people of new hampshire did not want same-sex marriage. this was bought and paid for by a lot of money. and the fact is that many of those legislators who voted for this are now out of office. the people voted in the ballot box and had a historic change there where the republicans took over, 119 legislators were booted out and they were booted out because they took it upon themselves to redefine marriage. this bill will allow the people to have a vote through a referendum and will right this great wrong that was put on new hampshire not coming from the people but coming from out-of- state interest groups who tried to buy and pay for same-sex marriage in new hampshire .

>> craig , how do you respond to that, going back to the satistatus quo? right now the status quo is equality in marriage. what are the people of new hampshire saying to this?

>> i think it's kind of funny when somebody out of state sits here and tells me how i should live my life in new hampshire . it really is an interesting thing. and i think that today you're going to see a real bipartisan push, republicans and democrats, that are on the side of freedom and liberty and understand that this is the " live free or die " state and what they're really voting on here is taking away rights from loving and committed couples.

>> for the national organization of marriage, we've interviewed you before, you are in favor of civil unions . is this a white flag of surrender in a certain aspect, realizing that the flow, the tides are changing and that marriage equality is a reality? right now, it is a reality in eight states and the district of columbia .

>> well, you refer to eight states. two of those states will have r ref referenda coming up in november. every single time a state has had the chance, they've rejected same-sex marriage. there is no right to redefine marriage. it doesn't expand liberty to give the state the prerogative to redefine something as basic and common sense is that it takes a man and woman to make a marriage. that isn't about expanding liberty. that's giving the government to redefine something it doesn't have the right to redefine. i expect we're going to have a majority vote . i think it's going to be historic to have a state vote and have a majority vote to say, this was wrong, we made a tragic mistake two years ago and we're going to right that wrong. and i expect that we're going to see a victory today. governor lynch will likely override. we'll work to try and override -- governor lynch will veto. we'll try to overwork that veto. but to have a majority vote , to set things right will be a great victory for those of us who know that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

>> brian, is it sometimes just exhausting for you and what the national organization of marriage does to try to stand against the tide of equality? is it exhausting?

>> well, again, i see the tide moving in the direction of protecting marriage. when you've had 31 --

>> marriage is already protected. i don't see anybody from new hampshire coming on here saying over the past two years that their marriage broke up because marriage equality became legal in the state of new hampshire . how is marriage for new hampshireites been interfered with?

>> when you redefine marriage, you redefine it for everyone, not just for that couple. you change what's taught in the public schools. there are plenty of people in new hampshire -- you can get representative bates or the folks from cornerstone to come on and talk about the very real effects of what's changed in marriage. religious organizations have attempted to coerce them, shutting down catholic charities , adoption agency in boston because it cannot according to its religious beliefs place children with same-sex couples. these are fundamental constitutional questions. redefining marriage is not an expansion of liberty. it's a direct attack on the first amendment.

>> craig stowell, brian brown , gentlemen, thanks for joining me today. we'll keep our eyes on what happens in new hampshire .