MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) – Texas Governor Rick Perry pressed a conservative social agenda at an appearance in New Hampshire, calling for the repeal of the state’s 2009 law legalizing same-sex marriage.
Perry also praised efforts in the state to end funding for birth control and health services for low-income women provided by Planned Parenthood in the state.
The comments were made late Friday at an event in Manchester sponsored by conservative activist group Cornerstone Action.
A poll from the University of New Hampshire this month showed that 62 percent of residents oppose repealing the same-sex marriage law — including a plurality of likely Republican primary voters — while only 27 percent support repealing it.
Regardless, Republicans who swept to power in both state chambers of the state legislature in 2010 have this year introduced a bill to repeal.
“I applaud those legislators in New Hampshire who are working to defend marriage as an institution between one man and one woman,” Perry said, adding that he supported the “sanctity of traditional marriage.”
New Hampshire has become a battleground this year in a push by opponents of abortion to end all government family planning and women’s healthcare contracts with Planned Parenthood because some of the organization’s clinics provide abortions.
Planned Parenthood is barred from using public funds for abortion under federal law and finances such services from private funds.
In June, three members of the state’s Executive Council, which must approve all state contracts over $10,000, vetoed a contract worth up to $1.8 million with a Planned Parenthood affiliate to provide birth control and services such as pelvic exams to low-income women in about half the state.
The funding, from a federal grant program, was restored by Washington in September when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ruled the state was in violation of rules requiring it to provide family planning services statewide.
Perry, who this year signed legislation in Texas cutting family planning and women’s healthcare funds to Planned Parenthood, criticized the federal government’s move as an unconstitutional infringement of state’s rights.
“If you want to stop Washington’s big violations of the (constitution), especially when it comes to the most basic principle of protecting life, then we must make President Obama a one-term president.”
Planned Parenthood supporters picketed outside Friday’s event.
“Governor Rick Perry is far out of the mainstream on women’s health and, if elected President, would be a disaster for women’s health in America just as he has been for women in Texas,” said Jennifer Frizzell, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood.
UNH polling shows that New Hampshire is more supportive of abortion rights than the nation as a whole.
A poll done in February found that 88 percent of state residents think abortion should always be legal or legal in limited circumstances, including 82 percent of Republicans.
A CNN/Time poll this week showed Perry sixth among Republican presidential contenders in New Hampshire with 4 percent support. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leads with 40 percent.
(Reporting by Jason McLure; Editing by Ros Krasny)
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