Marriage Equality in The Granite State

by Admin

The Human Rights Campaign made a significant commitment of resources to the successful efforts to achieve marriage equality in New Hampshire in 2009. Working with the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, HRC provided substantial field and communications expertise from the first legislative vote to the governor's final signing of the marriage bill. HRC also mobilized its New Hampshire members and supporters to take action by contacting their legislators and the governor.

In 2006, HRC worked closely with legislators, community groups and local leaders to help elect fair-minded majorities to both the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Senate, which subsequently voted to pass civil unions legislation in 2007, followed by the marriage bill this year.

When the National Organization for Marriage started making $50,000 ad buys in New Hampshire, I put out a call for help and HRC answered. We could not have done this without them."

-Mo Baxley, executive director of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition

HRC deployed 10 staff to New Hampshire, including two regional field directors and three regional field organizers, as well as hired three New Hampshire-based consultants. HRC staff and consultants worked across the state between May 1 and May 15, 2009, in cities and towns including Concord, Manchester, Portsmouth, Laconia, Hanover, Keene, Hopkinton and Plymouth.

HRC coordinated with NHFTM Executive Director Mo Baxley to develop a field strategy for building grassroots support for the marriage bill and to organize NHFTM's local volunteer activities. Efforts were focused primarily on gathering petition signatures and generating phone calls to the governor to encourage him to sign the legislation.

HRC worked closely with community organizations, Unitarian Universalist churches and student groups to build support, collect signatures and generate phone calls and other contacts to the governor. Over the two-week period, HRC staff and consultants helped gather more than 11,000 petition signatures and generate more than 1,000 phone calls to the governor. Staff, consultants and volunteers canvassed high-traffic downtown areas, college campuses including Dartmouth, University of New Hampshire and Keene State, and nearby residential areas. They engaged in thousands of in-person conversations with residents across the state about the marriage bill and spoke at key community events. Staff and consultants also recruited and supervised volunteers from New Hampshire and across the region, including deploying numerous volunteers from MassEquality.

HRC took the lead in organizing three visibility events across the state in order to demonstrate the widespread support for the bill. Events were held in Concord (in front of the statehouse), Portsmouth (in Market Square) and Hanover (on the Dartmouth Green). Hundreds of New Hampshire residents participated in the events, which included displaying signs supporting marriage equality and collecting petition signatures.

HRC also helped develop NHFTM's communications strategy and arranged for positive coverage of NHFTM grassroots efforts in local newspapers. HRC moderated NHFTM's Facebook page and Twitter feed throughout the campaign to provide information about ongoing developments and conduct online recruitment for grassroots activities.

From Washington, D.C., HRC national office staff regularly strategized with Mo Baxley of NHFTM, and the online team prepared and sent out e-mail Action Alerts encouraging HRC's New Hampshire members and supporters to use HRC's online Action Center in order to contact the governor and members of the House and Senate. In addition, HRC national office staff and volunteers phone banked New Hampshire members and supporters, urging them to take action.

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