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Two Governors Torn Between Principle and Party on Same-Sex Marriage

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer The issue of same-sex marriage will soon force two New England governors to face the tough decision between their principles and their party when it comes time to sign the bills. According to a report in the Washington Times, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch and Maine Gov. John Baldacci have both made it quite clear that they oppose gay marriage, but the legislatures in both states have passed same-sex marriage legislation that they will now be forced to either sign or veto. In both states, supporters and opponents have been divided along mostly party lines with Democrats tneding to favor the bills and Republicans voting against them. The problem for Gov. Baldacci and Gov. Lynch is that they are both Democrats.   "If you read the blogs, it's almost like it's become a litmus test for Democrats here, like abortion," said Kevin Smith, executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research-Action in Manchester, N.H., which opposes same-sex marriage. It appears that Gov. Lynch is likely to face the issue first because both houses of the New Hampshire legislature have passed same-sex legislation, leaving lawmakers with only the task of reconciling differences between the House and Senate versions before sending the bill to the governor. Just last week, Gov. Lynch issued a statement reiterating his position on the issue but stopped short of saying he would veto the bill. "I still believe the fundamental issue about providing the same rights and protections to same-sex couples as are available to heterosexual couples," said Mr. Lynch. "This was accomplished through the passage of the civil-unions law two years ago." Lynch is expected to seek re-election next year, but analysts say vetoing the bill won’t cost him because he already holds a 70 percent approval rating and has a personal fortune that makes him less dependent on special-interest funding. "He's kind of in a box now because, on a number of occasions, he's said he doesn't support same-sex marriage and that he thinks marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman," said Mr. Smith. "So now, is he going to go with what he said he would do, or what the party wants him to do?" In Maine, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage passed the Senate on April 30 by a vote of 21-14 and now goes to the House, where it is expected to pass.  Gov. Baldacci has also openly opposed gay marriage in favor of civil unions, but has said he would keep an open mind on the issue during debate. "I'm not prepared to say I support gay marriage today, but I will consider what I hear as the Legislature works to find the best way to address discrimination," Mr. Baldacci said. Gov. Baldacci doesn't face the pressure of a 2010 campaign because of term limits. Opponents of same-sex marriage are preparing for the worst, announcing last week that if he does sign the bill, they will attempt to block it with a veto referendum, known as a "people's veto." Placing such a measure on the ballot is relatively easy in Maine, requiring about 55,000 signatures, and the effort is often successful.   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. http://www.womenofgrace.com

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