Stowell, Republican and Iraq war vet featured in gay marriage ad, talks to NHJ
Craig Stowell fought insurgents in 2004 as a U.S. Marine in Iraq, but the Granite Stater soon found himself on a battlefield of a different sort when he returned home: the political and social minefield of gay marriage.
Stowell, a life-long Republican, became a central figure in the recent state effort to extend marriage rights to gay men and women. Now he’s featured in a new national television advertising campaign pushing for gay marriage elsewhere.
NH Journal spoke exclusively with Stowell on Saturday about what spurred his personal evolution on gay marriage–he says his gay brother served as the best man in his wedding and now wants to have the same privilege–and how he is working to change the opinions of fellow Republicans.
NH JOURNAL: How is it that you became involved with the New Hampshire effort to extend marriage rights to gay men and women?
CRAIG STOWELL: In addition to having a gay brother I am one of the many granite staters that had a hard time understanding why HB 437 was introduced to repeal our popular marriage law. Knowing that there was a real chance it could pass forced me to stand up. As Republicans we don’t take away rights from law abiding citizens and thankfully a majority of Republicans voted to kill the bill when it came up to a vote in the full house.
NHJ: Was this your first act of political activism or had you been involved in local Republican campaigns previously?
CS: My first political activism took place in the fall of ’96 at the age of 15. I dressed up as Bob Dole for halloween and handed out campaign materials instead of candy. I even walked the streets of Pumpkinfest in Keene soliciting votes. More recently I signed on as a New Hampshire Veterans for Rudy during his brief ’08 run.
NHJ: Some Republicans have begun softening the party’s once-rigid position on gay marriage, but there’s still obvious opposition. What do you tell those GOP lawmakers and activists who still oppose it?
CS: I try to remind folks where we have been on similar issues in the past. It was Republicans that passed the civil rights act, women’s suffrage and the 13th Amendment. When it comes to personal freedom we have a history of being ahead of the curve.