A casualty of war? Newly elected New Hampshire state Rep. Robert Porter (R) must give up his House seat -- even before he takes it -- when he is sent to the Persian Gulf with his National Guard unit, because the state constitution bars legislators from serving while they are on active military duty.

"If you've done the patriotic thing and gone to serve, to have your House seat taken away from you is ridiculous," said Republican House Speaker Harold Burns. "That's one of the worst things I've ever heard. It's almost evil, and I would do everything in my power to change it."

Porter, a member of the Guard's 744th Transportation Company, which was called up last month, could not be sworn in Wednesday with other House members because he is training at Fort Devens in Ayer, Mass.

Burns said he would support a change in the constitution to ensure that lawmakers who are called to serve will have their seats when they return.

"We could change this in 1992, but unfortunately that does not help Representative Porter," Burns said. He said he hopes no one calls for a special election to fill Porter's seat.