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Gay marriage opponents rally today at NH State House

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 06. 2012 10:55PM

CONCORD - Opponents of the state's gay marriage law plan to hold a rally at the steps of the State House today, as lawmakers await the scheduling of a vote on a bill that would repeal the law.

The rally is being organized by Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, who has taken the lead in the fight to reverse the law.

'This is a way to demonstrate support for traditional marriage,' Bates said on Monday. 'Supporters of the law say a majority support the law. I firmly don't believe that's true.'

The rally is also being backed by Cornerstone-Action, one of the main groups seeking to overturn the same-sex marriage law.

In an effort to counter Bates' message, Stand Up for New Hampshire Families, the organization recently formed to fight the repeal effort, plans to have its own speakers at the State House.

'Our opponents can pour their money into mailers, phone calls, buses and vans to try and gin up a crowd, but the simple fact is - the numbers don't lie,' said spokesman Tyler Deaton in a statement, pointing to a recent poll that found an overwhelming majority of Democrats and solid majority of independent voters in New Hampshire believe strongly the law should remain in effect.

The poll found Republican voters evenly split on the issue, with 47 percent supporting repeal of the law and 47 percent supporting leaving it in place.

There was some confusion on Monday over which group was countering the other. Bates said that he had organized the rally to respond to one he thought was going to be held by Stand Up for New Hampshire Families, which in turn insisted it had no plans to hold an event.

The dueling rallies come as both sides in the debate maneuver ahead of a vote on the repeal bill, HB 437. No vote is scheduled for this week, but Cornerstone said in an email about the rally that one could come as soon as Feb. 15. Bates said he is crafting an amendment designed to win the widest margin of support.

The repeal is expected to pass the House and the Senate as well, but winning enough votes to override a promised veto from Gov. John Lynch will be a challenge for the bill's backers.

Both sides have declared that they will wage extensive campaigns for public and legislative support, and both are getting funding and assistance from donors and groups nationwide.

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