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12/07/2011

NOM NH lobbyist: 'I think most Republicans are now in favor of civil unions'

by Jeremy Hooper

We all know that when it comes down to it, NOM and its staffers always end up standing against not only marriage equality but also civil unions. We saw this recently in Rhode Island, where NOM RI director Chris Plante portrayed the state's passage of a civil unions bill as a "disappointing and dangerous day for marriage."  We also saw it in Illinois' civil unions debate, where NOM directed its supporters to send letters to their lawmakers warning of the "direct threat to marriage and the religious liberties of your constituents."  We saw it years ago in Connecticut, when NOM president Brian Brown (then the director of the Connecticut Family Institute) did everything in his power to stop that state's civil unions, under the claim that "confusing marriage with any other institution, creating a mimic of marriage, undermines the very nature of what marriage is."

We see it everywhere. There has never been a civil unions proposal that NOM has supported.  Ever.  Not one.  Not even a little bit.

Speaking specifically about New Hampshire and the threat NOM is waging against that state's marriage equality, we recently heard an official NOM lobbyist, Kevin Smith, admit to Focus on the Family that "Ultimately what we'd like to see is [state law] revert back to what it was prior to civil unions." Which, again, is par for the course with NOM.  Civil unions are a non-starter.

So I was truly surprised to learn that a man who has made a comment like this…

Generally speaking, I think most Republicans are now in favor of civil unions,”… “I don’t see that as much of a deal-breaker in New Hampshire, or nationally. I just think the battleground for gay-rights issues today is with marriage and not civil unions.

-Michael Dennehy, GOP lobbyist [Salt Lake Tribune]

…is now working as a lobbyist for NOM in New Hampshire:

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[SOURCE]

Because uhm, really: A NOM lobbyist declaring in the press that Republicans are now in favor of civil unions on a national level? That goes against every single stance we've seen NOM take on civil unions.  Stances we've seen them take as recently as a couple of months ago, in fact!

It also goes against everything NOM has been saying to the hardcore social conservatives that they're trying to court. Is that crew really going to keep handing the keys to the "protect marriage" car to NOM if they start bringing in voices that declare civil unions to be a Republican consensus position?

What, does NOM think that since New Hampshire is far more moderate than other states that they can push this kind of messaging there while working completely different messaging everywhere else? Because I can tell you right now: NO, that's not gonna fly with us! If NOM -- an almost exclusively GOP group, despite laughable bipartisan claims -- is going to take a "we and all Republicans love civil unions" approach in the Granite State, then we are going to hold them to it in every single civil unions conversation that comes after.  They don't get to shift their supposedly firm views regarding people's lives and families on a state-by-state basis!  If they are going to follow one of their designated lobbyist's own talking points on civil unions in NH, then that's going to shift their tone from here on out.

Or they're gonna look like opportunistic hypocrites.  Either is fine by me, actually.

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**Ironically, this same Michael Dennehy had to pay an ethics fine in Maine back in 2010, when he was working for GOP gubernatorial candidate Les Otten. The issue? Some robocalls he improperly spearheaded, which faulted eventual Maine Governor Paul LePage for being soft on -- wait for it, wait for it -- CIVIL UNIONS: Ethics officials fine consultant for improper [Kennebec Journal]

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