Speaking out in support of a bill that would shift the penalty for simple assault from a misdemeanor crime to a violation-level offense in certain cases, a Republican legislator in New Hampshire on Tuesday suggested that “a lot of people like being in abusive relationships.”
The argument was floated by state Rep. Mark Warden (R), one of only four members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee to vote in favor of the bill, which drew opposition from both law enforcement and domestic violence groups alike. By a 16-4 margin, the panel voted to recommend that the full state House shoot down the bill.
“Some people could make the argument that a lot of people like being in abusive relationships,” Warden said during a meeting held by the committee. “It’s a love-hate relationship. It’s very, very common for people to stick around with somebody they love who also abuses him or her.”
He continued, “Is the solution to those kind of dysfunctional relationships going to be more government, another law? I tend to say no. People are always free to leave.”
The remark was caught on camera by the liberal advocacy group Granite State Progress and released on Wednesday afternoon.
Warden refused to address the remarks later on Tuesday.
“I’m sure it was taken out of context, but that’s all Im going to say about it,” Warden said, according to the Concord Monitor.
Warden could not be immediately reached by TPM for comment.
This post has been updated.