Thursday, March 16, 2017

18th Century Outbreak

Last week the NH House had a marathon two-day session wherein hundreds of bills were dealt with, in a variety of ways. It’s hard to know if this was the result of poor planning or if it was deliberately done to create chaos and keep some bills from getting the attention they should. There were some interesting dances done.

On Wednesday, the first day of the 2-day session, legislators were informed they’d be working till 8 pm. One of the bills in the queue was HB 478, the bill to add gender identity to our state’s anti-discrimination laws. A large group of Republican legislators left early. When Speaker Jasper realized that he still had a quorum, but he had a Democratic majority, he shut the session down. He intended to table HB 478, and that wouldn’t have been possible without a GOP majority presence.

The next day, Rep. Packard moved to table, which squeaked through by an 8 vote margin. It seems our brave, gun-totin, GOP majority legislature was too afraid to have a fair hearing and discussion of the bill. This bill came out of committee with a recommendation of ought to pass, by a vote of 15-2. The work of that committee, the calls, letters, and emails from constituents, and the testimony by hundreds of residents were shown absolutely zero respect by the Speaker, most of the Republican majority and some Democrats. In Carroll County the only representatives who voted against the cowardly move to table were Butler, Knirk, and Crawford.  

In other bill news, HB 94 prohibited certain defenses in prostitution and human trafficking cases. The certain defense prohibited in this bill is the “I didn’t know she was underage” excuse given by johns after being arrested for buying sex from a child. The bill passed, but 86 legislators voted against it. Here in Carroll County four legislators voted to continue to allow men to use this excuse when arrested: McCarthy, Knirk, Avellani, and Comeau. Rep. Nelson was excused from voting.

In other repugnant votes, HB 499 would have required individuals to be 18 in order to marry. Current NH statute allows girls of 13 and boys of 14 to marry with the approval of a judge. Also, 13-year-old girls don’t marry 14-year-old boys. Most of those who prey on underage girls are adult men. Like the 40 year old man who married a 17-year-old girl in 2006.

The bill was recommended to pass by a unanimous committee vote, and placed on the consent calendar. Bills on the consent calendar are generally fast-tracked to be approved or killed by a voice vote. Representative David Bates removed the bill from the consent calendar. Rep. Bates (whose last bout of notoriety came from his vociferous opposition to marriage equality and his subsequent attempts to repeal marriage equality) objected to the change in the law, because, he said, “If we pass this, we will ensure forever that every child born to a minor will be born out of wedlock.” Others argued that it would block soldiers from getting married. No word on how many soldiers are enrolled in middle school.  

According to a recent Union Leader story, a judge granted a 17-year-old boy permission to marry his pregnant 13-year-old girlfriend in 2013. They claimed they wanted to get married because of their strong religious beliefs dictated babies be born to married parents. Four months later, at the age of 14, the girl filed for divorce on the grounds of infidelity and domestic abuse. Marriage, contrary to the belief system of Rep. Bates, didn’t do this girl or her baby any favors. When girl children are forced into marriage, they are more likely to drop out of school, and they are at high risk for domestic violence. They’re also on the fast track for a lifetime of poverty.

The House voted 179-168 to indefinitely postpone this bill. That means it can’t come back during the current biennium. 
In Carroll County, only Representatives Buco, Butler, and Nelson voted against the motion to indefinitely postpone.

To summarize:  Rather than protect a vulnerable population, the men of the GOP clung to a myth to bray about the need to protect girls and women in bathrooms. Other cherished GOP myths include: busloads of voters from Massachusetts, trickle down economics, and the NH advantage. When the majority had a chance to actually vote to protect - they chose to protect the old pervs buying sex from underage girls. When they had a chance to protect girls, they chose to ensure that girls could still be auctioned off, because domestic abuse is more palatable when it comes with the seal of holy matrimony.

When they say, “we want to take our country back,” this is what they mean – back to the 18th century.

Published as an op-ed in the March 17, 2017 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper. 

Of course, there are always consequences....


Junior Mints said...

Is anyone completely shocked that the carpetbagging teabagging Libertarians aka Free State Project are on board with most of the Trump administration's policies?

tworavens said...

Another great piece Susan and you are 100% - "they" only care about living in the past, mired in their heady and intoxicating days of male dominance, slavery and absolute power. The sketch with the angry females and their pitchforks is terrific and very appropriate. We are now living the reality of seeing all "progress" such as the EPA, NE for the Arts, National Parks, Public Broadcasting, all/any social services (Meal on Wheels), and hundreds of others, very likely dismantled. We'll become the same as North Korea, only much dumber since they never had the advantage of prior success as we did. But all "they" in their stupidity and dishonorable manner can come up with are "bathroom police laws". They are pathetic, disgusting traitors and deserve to be launched into outer space.

Fred Leonard said...

I think I agree with your views on everything in this piece Susan...protecting transgendered people is a no brainer in my book!