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Topics In the News
Two Defeats for the National Organization for Marriage
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 03/21/12
Last updated on: 03/23/12
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Stand Up for New Hampshire Marriages leader Craig Stowell discusses the proposed repeal of marriage equality on MSNBC.

On March 21, 2012, the National Organization for Marriage suffered two defeats: its campaign to repeal marriage equality in New Hampshire was soundly rejected in the state's House of Representatives and its attempt to pressure Starbucks to retract its support for marriage equality in the state of Washington culminated in the company's Chairman forcefully reiterating the enterprise's commitment to equal rights.

After two hours of debate, the Republican-controlled New Hampshire House rejected an attempt to repeal the state's marriage equality law and replace it with civil unions. The vote was expected to be close. If it had passed, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch had vowed to veto it, so the real question was thought to be whether it would receive more than a 2/3 majority in the House, which is 74% Republican.

In the event, however, the bill was decisively rejected on a vote of 116 in favor and 211 opposed. One hundred eleven Republicans voted against the bill.

The vote came after a number of amendments were rejected, including one that would have authorized a nonbinding referendum on the issue.

Polls have repeatedly shown that more than 60% of the residents of New Hampshire support the current law. Legislators no doubt feared that they could be endangering their re-election prospects if they voted for an unpopular piece of legislation.

The defeat of the attempt to repeal marriage equality in New Hampshire, which adopted same-sex marriage in late 2009, was a great victory for the Standing Up For New Hampshire Families organization and a crushing loss for the National Organization for Marriage, which campaigned in favor of the repeal.

Craig Stowell, co-chair of Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, who testified before the legislature in support of the right of his gay brother, Calvin, to marry, said after the vote, "Today is a banner day for the freedom to marry. Our opponents have been crowing about getting their two-thirds, but in the end, it's clear they couldn't muster the votes. This is a victory for our supporters--the majority of Granite Staters who oppose any roll back of marriage equality--because they reached out time and again and told lawmakers to leave this law alone."

Earlier in the day, the National Organization for Marriage was also rebuffed at the Starbucks shareholders meeting in Seattle. When an NOM member questioned Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz about the company's decision to endorse the marriage equality bill in Washington last month, Shultz forthrightly responded.

"Any decision of this type of magnitude has be made with great thoughtfulness and I would assure you that a senior team at Starbucks discussed this. To be very candid with you, this was not something that was a difficult decision for us and we did share this with the board as well," Shultz said. "We made that decision, in our view, through the lens of humanity and being the kind of company that embraces diversity."

The assembled stockholders applauded loudly.

In response, NOM promptly announced a boycott of the company.

Brian Brown, NOM's executive director, issued the following statement: "We will not tolerate an international company attempting to force its misguided values on citizens. The majority of Americans and virtually every consumer in some countries in which Starbucks operates believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. They will not be pleased to learn that their money is being used to advance gay marriage in society."

He said that NOM will place "ads throughout the United States, as well as in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, urging consumers to 'Dump Starbucks' because purchasing a cup of Starbucks equals support for gay marriage."

This morning Brown appeared with Craig Stowell to discuss the proposed repeal of marriage equality in New Hampshire on Thomas Roberts's MSNBC show.

In the video below, Roberts begins by marvelling that NOM has endorsed civil unions in New Hampshire whereas it has always previously opposed civil unions. (Although Brown dodges Roberts's questions, NOM's support for civil unions in New Hampshire was only because it was deemed to be necessary in order to get enough votes to pass the marriage equality repeal bill there. In actuality, NOM fiercely opposes any recognition of glbtq families.)

At the end of the segment, Roberts asks Brown whether it is "exhausting to stand against the tide of equality" and recommends that he see the film Bully.

In the video below, NOM plants confront Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz over same-sex marriage and threaten a boycott.

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