During an appearance on MSNBC this morning, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) counseled the GOP presidential candidates to avoid discussing the state’s effort to repeal its 2009 marriage equality law, noting that voters are focused on “how you’re going to get this spending under control.” Ayottee also said she did not agree with Rick Santorum’s argument that marriage equality would lead to polygamy and expressed some confusion about how her state should treat married gay and lesbian couples if the marriage law is eliminated:
CHUCK TODD: New Hampshire, gay marriage is legal here. And I know there is an attempt to repeal it here. You favor that attempt, do you buy Sen. Santorum’s argument here that once you legalize same-sex marriage then you know, why not then legalize polygamy ?
AYOTTE: I don’t. And I really think, the issue, the focus of this primary is on the economic issues and while certainly among Republican voters there are strong feelings on the social issues, but the focus on New Hampshire in terms of the number one issue is going to be spending, size of government and how do we get people to work, so I think he’s really getting off message there.
TODD: But getting back to what New Hampshire is doing, what do you do to same-sex couples that have married, if the law is repealed here?
AYOTTE: What do you mean what do you do? … I mean obviously that’s a legal issue that would have to be addressed… you know, usually you have to, traditionally in a situation like that under law you have to grandfather people, rely on the law as it was and certainly that will be an issue the legislature will have to address if they change the law.
Ayotte’s suggestion that the legislature create different tiers of marriage for gay and lesbian people is reminiscent of the position Mitt Romney — who Ayotte endorsed — has staked out. Romney has proposed that the state maintain marriage rights for straight couples, allow gays who have already married to remain married, but prevent future same-sex marriages.
A former state Attorney General, Ayotte cut her teeth as a social conservative causes and has previously repudiated same-sex marriages performed in other states and championed a landmark case to the Supreme Court upholding New Hampshire’s parental notification abortion law.