CONCORD, N.H.—A national advocacy group is backing new radio and television ads criticizing Democratic Gov. John Lynch for signing gay marriage into law in New Hampshire last year.
New Hampshire's Cornerstone Action and the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage are spending $450,000 on the ads that started Monday and run through Oct. 13. Lynch faces conservative Republican John Stephen on Nov. 2. Stephen opposes gay marriage.
Titled "He's Changed," the ads say Lynch failed to keep his word on taxes, spending, public safety and gay marriage. The ad shows a clip of Lynch saying he opposed gay marriage. The announcer then says he signed the law and now is collecting campaign contributions from gay activists.
"When John Lynch lied and betrayed the voters of New Hampshire by signing the same-sex marriage bill NOM vowed to hold him accountable. Unlike John Lynch, we keep our promises," NOM president Brian Brown said in a statement about the new ad.
Lynch signed the gay marriage law last year, two years after he signed a civil unions law.
"Governor Lynch hasn't changed. He is thoughtful. He listens to people as he did on the marriage law," said Pamela Walsh, Lynch's campaign manager. "He's provided the steady leadership to get us through these tough times. As a result, New Hampshire has a balanced budget, a budget surplus and the second-fastest job growth in the country."
In signing the marriage law, Lynch said New Hampshire was standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities and respect under state law.
Opponents tried unsuccessfully to repeal the new law last winter, and an ad by the two groups last spring accused Lynch of lying about his opposition to gays marrying.
Cornerstone executive director Kevin Smith said Monday that Lynch says one thing, but does another.
Smith pointed to a new law that grants early release to felons so they can be placed under intense supervision. The ad criticizes Lynch for signing the law. Stephen also has tried to portray Lynch as soft on crime for supporting early release.
"Of all the things to mislead the public on, this one has to be the most despicable," Smith said.
Smith said Lynch owes victims an apology, but victims and their advocates lobbied for the law as a way to ensure felons don't walk out of prison when their sentences end with no supervision.
Lynch's campaign has issued an urgent plea to contributors to pay for response ads.
New Hampshire became the fifth state to legalize gay marriage on Jan. 1, joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont. California briefly allowed gay marriage before a popular vote in 2008 banned the practice; a court ruling grandfathered in couples who were already married. Last year, Maine lawmakers approved gay marriage, but voters in a referendum overturned the law before it went into effect.