CONCORD — State Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley says anti-same sex marriage Republicans who campaign for President in New Hampshire beginning next year will find a state where most voters of all stripes do not share their view.
Buckley joined Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan on a Democratic National Committee conference call Wednesday to criticize New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on the issue. Buckley, who is a vice chairman of the DNC and is openly gay, also hit Texas Gov. Rick Perry for recently equating being gay with alcoholism.
Christie, who is scheduled to return to New Hampshire in two weeks for a state GOP fundraiser in Manchester, told reporters at a National Governors Association meeting in Nashville last weekend that the marriage equality issue is not resolved in his party and should continue being debated by the GOP.
Christie opposes gay marriage and said in Nashville, “I don’t think there’s some referee who stands up and says, ‘OK, now it’s time for you to change your opinion. The country will resolve this over a period of time. But do I think it’s resolved? No.”
Christie, however, refused to pursue a court battle to overturn a New Jersey ruling in favor of marriage equality, drawing criticism from conservatives. He said he did not want to waste taxpayer money on a fight he knew he would not win.
Walker, meanwhile, said at the same NGA gathering he did not think the Republican Party was fighting gay marriage at this point and that it is not on par with jobs and the economy as a top tier political issue in the GOP.
Yet, his comments came less than a week after he appealed a federal judge’s ruling striking down Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage. He supported the ban, but said he was pursuing the case only as a formality to defend his state’s constitution.
Buckley said the majority of New Hampshire voters are in favor of same sex marriage, including large majorities of Democratic and all-important independent voters, as well about 40 percent of Republicans. He noted that presidential primary elections can be strongly influenced by whether independents, who make up about 42 percent of the electorate, pick up Republican or Democratic ballots.
“Opposing marriage equality may play well in other states but it is not a help to any of them in the State of New Hampshire,” Buckley said.
He said the momentum in favor of same sex marriage is growing, so that “as time goes by I would not be surprised if a majority of Republican primary voters by the time February of 2016 rolls around are in favor of marriage equality. Those (GOP) candidates are going to have to be answerable to them.”
Pocan, who is from Walker’s home state, called Walker’s comment “bizarre” in light of his appeal of the ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. He said his governor is trying to appease Republicans on either side of the issue.
Buckley called Walker’s position ”laughable” and said Christie, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, leads several governors who have also opposed gay marriage.
He noted that Perry, who is coming to New Hampshire in August, recently compared being gay to being an alcoholic and refused to backtrack on the comments.
“These Republicans will become even more extreme and more unpopular with the voters as they cow-tow to the extreme base of the Republican Party and as more and more Americans stand up in defense of marriage equality,” Buckley said.