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Republican Marine Vet with Gay Brother Fights for Same-Sex Marriage in New Hampshire

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Craig Stowell on left, Calvin Stowell on right, and their twin younger brothers

Inspired by his gay brother, Iraq vet launches popular campaign on Change.org calling on New Hampshire state legislature to oppose repeal of same-sex marriage.

More than 3,000 Granite Staters and 100,000 people across the country have joined a popular campaign on Change.org started by a conservative Iraq veteran urging the New Hampshire state legislature to defend the freedom to marry for all couples.

Craig Stowell, a former Marine and co-chair of Standing Up For New Hampshire Families, is leading the campaign on Change.org urging New Hampshire state legislators to oppose H.B. 437, a bill to repeal same-sex marriage that legislators could vote on as early as this week. Craig started the campaign for his openly gay brother, Calvin, who he calls his best friend.

“When I enlisted in the Marines, I took an oath to defend freedom and liberty, and now I’m defending my brother’s freedom here at home,” said Stowell. “When my wife Berta and I were married, Calvin was right there by my side as my best man. I want the opportunity to be his best man when he finds the person he wants to marry.”

Within hours of the campaign’s launch, Craig had recruited hundreds of people from across the state of New Hampshire to sign his petition on Change.org, the world’s fastest growing platform for social change, and he predicts the number will continue to grow.

“Craig’s campaign has resonated not only with thousands of Granite Staters, but with more than 100,000 people across the country,” said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, organizing manager at Change.org. “Craig won’t stop defending his brother, and his campaign is inspiring thousands of others to stand up for the people they love, too.”

Recent polls have shown that New Hampshire residents overwhelmingly support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, with a poll from the University of New Hampshire showing support at 62 percent. New Hampshire became the sixth state in the nation to extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples when the law went into effect on January 1, 2010.

Live signature totals from Craig Stowell’s campaign on Change.org:

 

Why New Hampshire residents are signing Craig’s petition:

“My son Kyle is gay, but that’s the least interesting thing about him. He is a Yale student with a 3.9 average who is fluent in Middle Egyptian and three other languages; as a high school student he helped pass a NH resolution to use green bags instead of paper/plastic; he runs a children’s theater group in CT for underserved kids; he competes in ballroom dance. Kyle is the smartest person I know, yet if this repeal passes, he will be a second-class citizen in the state where he grew up. He won’t choose to live his adult life here, because he’ll feel discriminated against. Surely this isn’t how the state wants to treat some of its best and its brightest young people?” 
- Jodi Picoult, Hanover, NH

“I am married. My wife and I have been together for almost 20 years. Should I tell my children that the state has decided, once again, that their other mother doesn’t have any legal right to her family and home? I wonder what kind of impact that will have on family values?”

– Theresa Robertson, Concord, NH

“I was raised by a lesbian and I came out a good person. No one should have the right to tell someone who they can marry.” 
- Ryan Bourassa, Nashua, NH

“I am the mother of two young boys, and an auntie to 12 nieces and nephews. I have lived in NH most of my 40 years. I am heterosexual and married to the man I love. To me it is quite simple. All I have to do is look at my children and my nieces and nephews to know that if any of them is gay, then I would want them to have the same rights as heterosexuals. I want my children to grow up proud of who they are and not feel the pain of prejudice. I am a practicing Catholic and I believe in equality for EVERYONE.” 
- Maureen DiOrio, Concord, NH

“I am signing as a teacher who has the privilege of teaching my students about our country’s history, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Denying rights for such a superficial reason runs counter to all they understand about their country. I am also signing as a close friend to many gay and lesbian couples, married and wishing to marry. And finally, I am signing as the mother of a young gay man who is in a caring relationship.”
 – Deborah Bacon Nelson, Hanover, NH

“Equal rights for all. Not to mention this bill is a waste of my tax dollars. Try fixing the state budget and spend the time and energy on real issues!”
 – Anthony Piacenza, Manchester, NH

“Elected Officials of the State of NH—hear us now. Economy. Education. Employment. These are the things your residents are concerned with. Why are you wasting time and energy trying to resuscitate this proverbial lifeless equine? We as a society do not have the power to mandate whom someone should marry so, conversely, we do not have the power to mandate whom someone CANNOT marry. Attempting to legislate these things is arrogant and wrong and I’m ashamed of this effort. All eyes are on us, guys…we can show the rest of the nation how this is supposed to be done. Stop using gay marriage as a political agenda item and get back to the real issues at hand.” 
- Brenda LeClaire, Manchester, NH

“New Hampshire prides itself on being first in the nation for the electoral primary. While we were not the absolute first state to legalize marriage between any loving couple, regardless the individuals’ gender, we should nevertheless feel proud to be among the front runners of freedom in this legal struggle against discrimination, homophobia, and hatred. Upholding the current legislation, and allowing all loving couples the freedom to pursue the happiness of marital domesticity, is part and parcel of the core values of this nation. It is part of our state’s motto: Let us, be we straight, be we gay, be we bisexual, be we male, be we female, retain the right to live free to marry whom we would.” 
- Andrew McKernan, Dover, NH

“No one has the right to tell others who they can love. All should share in equal rights. I am a strong support of the Freedom To Marry.” 
- Linda Campbell, Salem, NH

“The government should stay out of the personal lives of its citizens and allow equal rights and treatment to all persons.” 
- Dr. Warren Schwartz, Concord, NH

“Marriage in the eyes of the state is a right that must be available to all if we are to ‘live free’. So too is the right under the law of any religious organization to recognize/bless or not recognize/bless such a union. It is the responsibility of our government to protect these fundamental rights – and to ensure that they are separate and distinct from each other.” – Kathryn Saunders, Portsmouth, NH

“I’ve lived in NH all my life, and I’ve always been proud to live here. I’m signing so I can continue to say I’m a proud citizen of New Hampshire. Don’t repeal the law!”
 – Angela Messier, Nashua, NH

“New Hampshire took a great step forward with its marriage equality law. Reversing that would be a grievous mistake and would be detrimental to countless families.”
 – Zachary Higham, Concord, NH

For more information on Craig Stowell’s group, Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, please visit:http://action.standingupfornhfamilies.org/Craig

Standing Up for New Hampshire Families is a bipartisan group of citizens, business owners, people of faith, and civic leaders who oppose repealing the popular 2009 law allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Lew Feldstein, former president and chief executive officer of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and Craig Stowell, a former Marine who served in Iraq, serve as co-chairs.

 

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Greg Jeu

Greg Jeu is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of OutSmart Magazine.

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