Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just ignore that Fundie hype

New Hampshire has a blend of direct and representative democracy. The statewide legislature is, of course, full of representatives. Only a month ago it soundly confirmed the gay marriage law enacted last year.

However, NH cities have regular Town Meetings in which citizens can vote directly on issues. I suspect this is in addition to an elected city council. Coming up to the March meetings, held a couple days ago, the Fundies got a whole slew of cities to put a "warrant" on the agenda, calling for the state legislature to let the citizens vote on the gay marriage law -- as in a constitution amendment banning it. A warrant is to advise the legislators, it can't force them to do anything. It is only an expression of voter sentiment. Many cities kept the warrant off the meeting agenda. A few of the cities revised their warrant to be meaningless, but most are the straight Fundie text.

Alas, a majority of the warrants passed, many by overwhelming margins. The fickle voter is still subject to the mob.

Fortunately, there are plenty of reasons to ignore the Fundie hype that they scored a victory with these votes.

* The Fundies are ignoring towns that didn't put the warrant on the agenda or that later voted it off the agenda. Which means these are the conservative small towns, not the more liberal cities.

* Those that show up at these meetings tend to be the ornery ones, the ones with a bone to pick with any level of government. The mild-mannered ones tend to stay home.

* Most of the votes came after several hours of dreary detail work -- should we renew the contract for the trash collection company? -- which meant the younger (and more pro-gay) folks who had kids and a job the next morning had left for bed.

* The warrant language asked for two constitution amendments, one approving gay marriage, the other banning it. With both on the ballot voters would supposedly be clear of which they wanted. Alas, the idea is confusing, easily exploited, and nobody explained it other than in cheery terms that voters should have a say.

* Nobody explained why this issue needed voter confirmation while everything else, like gun control, doesn't.

* There was little debate and in most places if anyone spoke at the meeting it was a Fundie.

* The NH constitution requires 2/3 approval of amendments. These votes fell short of that threshold.

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