APNewsBreak: Marriage equality not on New Hampshire GOP agenda

Associated Press story by Norma Love posted on boston.com:

"House Republicans have decided not to pursue a repeal of New Hampshire's marriage equality law this year and plan instead to focus their energy on finding ways to improve the state's financial footing.

"House Republican Leader D.J. Bettencourt confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that jobs and the economy will be the top priorities on the House GOP agenda to be announced Thursday, which the GOP will use as its policymaking scorecard for the next two years.

"'The social issues must take a back seat,' said Bettencourt, R-Salem.

... "Bettencourt said he met with House Republicans to get a consensus on an agenda and 'to a person, everyone was in agreement we have to immediately get to work on the budget, retirement and reform education.'

"He said there was widespread agreement that social issues would have to come later.

"That leaves open the possibility that Republican leaders will postpone action on repealing the freedom to marry until next year, a non-budget year. The House can do that by having committees retain bills. Bettencourt would not say if leaders plan to do that.

"Under the rules, committees cannot kill bills, but can hold them over the first year of a two-year session and bring them in the following year for a House vote.

"'The legislative process will work its way through on those bills,' said Bettencourt. 'Our focus will be on fixing the budget, reforming the pension system and getting to work on reforming the education system.'

"He said those reforms won't happen if Republicans get distracted by other issues. He said issues like marriage equality were not the primary reasons voters replaced the Democratic majority in the House with a Republican one, he said.

"'We cannot allow ourselves ... where we campaigned on one set of issues and governed on another set of issues,' he said.

"The exclusion of the controversial issue comes a week after House Republican leaders battled criticism they were not focusing on the issues that voters sent them to Concord to deal with: the state budget, spending reductions and jobs.

... "They could draw criticism from within their ranks of social conservatives who want equal billing for placing limits on abortion and repealing marriage equality if leaders fail to get behind bills on both issues.

The freedom to marry was enacted two years ago when Democrats controlled the Legislature. Gov. John Lynch signed the law and has since repeatedly said he would veto any attempt to repeal it."

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