Gov. Sununu snubs LGBTQ+ advocates, sparking massive protest at NH State House

Granite Staters supportive of LGBTQ+ rights flooded the 2nd floor of the New Hampshire State House this week after Governor Chris Sunnuu refused to meet with community advocates to discuss the possibility of vetoing bills targeting trans-youth in the state. (Colin Booth/Granite Post)

By Colin Booth

May 31, 2024

Hundreds of Granite Staters took over the second floor of the New Hampshire State House on Wednesday after Gov. Chris Sununu refused to meet with LGBTQ+ rights advocates seeking to discuss the urgent need to veto Republican-backed bills targeting trans youth in the state.

Participants said they were disappointed the governor did not meet with them, but they were not surprised.

“We were holding out hope a little bit, but we had a backup plan, which we did… We expected him to not be terribly receptive, so the plan was basically to have our voices heard. So even if we didn’t directly meet with him, still have him realize how many people we had brought into the State House,” said Alice Wade, one of the organizers of the event.

Attendees sang protest songs imploring the governor to veto four Republican bills which have passed through the New Hampshire State House and Senate on largely party-line votes which enshrine discrimination against members of the trans community into state law.

The bills — which aim to enshrine several forms of discrimination against LGBTQ+ Granite Staters into law, including preventing transgender people from using bathrooms in state facilities that conform with their gender identity, bans trans girls from playing school sports, create new requirements for parental notification on all curriculum and materials related to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, and identifies these topics as “objectionable material.”

RELATED: NH Republicans pass trio of bills targeting LGBTQ Granite Staters in marathon Senate session

Ezra Brown, one of the organizers for the event, said the bills were a clear and present threat to the LGBTQ+ community in New Hampshire.

“These bills would be devastating. Ultimately they are designed to oppress us, to push us out of the state, to make it impossible for us to exist in public life. It is impossible to overstate how damaging these would be to our children,” Brown said.

Several Democratic lawmakers participated in the action, saying they were compelled to protect their constituents in the LGBTQ+ community.

“I have constituents. I have family members. I have dear friends who are part of the LGBTQ community,” said State Representative Loren Selig (D-Durham). “I also represent a college town… I’m also a former teacher. I know that for my students, it was a crucial thing having people who are allies who are there to support and love them, and we need to give them outlets so that they have places to play sports, to go to the bathroom to get health care and to take good care of themselves.”

Gov. Sununu has not given much indication to his position on the bills, except expressing support to allow the state to discriminate against trans girls participating in school sports, saying in March he generally agreed with the idea.

The passage of these bills comes amid an influx of anti-LGBTQ+ moves by the state’s Republican party, including the renewal of a pledge in the NH GOP platform recently to “Recognize marriage as the legal and sacred union between one man and one woman” and NH House Speaker Sherman Packard proclaiming May 2024 to be “Natural Family Month,” a designation coined and promoted by anti-LGBTQ+ groups.

The votes also come during a dramatic rise in hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in New England and across the United States. Recent reports have shown a significant increase in incidents of harassment, vandalism, and violence directed at LGBTQ+ individuals.

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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