The new wedge issue – gay marriage

Timothy Kincaid

January 8th, 2012

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a moderate Republican. His focus is mostly on fiscal issues and on social issues he does not seem to be directed by his religious affiliations.

However, like many moderate politicians of both parties, Christie believes that vocal support for civil unions is a safe position that will not draw too much ire from anyone.

To an extent he’s right. Our community is still appreciative of civil union support when it is sincere. But that is rapidly becoming inadequate. And it may soon be a position that a New Jersey politician may find untenable.

Christie has hinted that he would veto any marriage bill that crossed his desk. But that resolve will soon be put to the test. (ABC4)

Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature will reintroduce a gay marriage bill this week and have vowed to make same-sex unions a top priority two years after similar legislation was voted down.

Senate Bill 1 is being played up in a highly visible fashion. And while supporters likely do strongly wish to achieve equality in New Jersey, they even more strongly wish to establish a distinction between Democrats and Republicans.

Just as it was in 2004, gay marriage is again becoming a wedge issue. But this time it is opponents of equality who are embarrassed and defensive and trying to explain why their positions are inconsistent with will of the populace.

We see how anti-gay positions have destroyed a few campaigns already. And it is not Romney’s kinda-sorta gay tolerance that has become an albatross as right-wingers predicted, but Santorum’s views that have dogged his steps and defined his candidacy.

Now we will soon learn in New Jersey whether marriage equality has become so socially accepted that civil unions support is a position that can hurt a politician.


January 8th, 2012

Oh, great, those craven Democrats are now using a losing bill for campaign purposes, what a surprise. When they had a governor willing to sign, they flushed it down the toilet.

I’ll be deeply disappointed if gay orgs over there take the bait. Leave those Democrats to dry and not a single cent should be made available.

Mark F.

January 8th, 2012

Pass something Christie will actually sign, idiots. We don’t have to have the entire loaf right now.

Timothy Kincaid

January 8th, 2012


New Jersey currently has everything-but-the-name civil unions. Marriage really is the only next step.


January 8th, 2012

@Mark F.

Isn’t New Jersey one of those states with Civil Union laws that basically grant gay couples everything that married couples get (on the state level)? Marriage equality is the logical next step to lobby for.


January 8th, 2012

All signs point to Christie running for President in 2016 if Obama wins or 2020 if Romney wins. No way he would sign this. Santorum is doing well and Romney is having trouble clinching the nomination precisely because Romney isn’t anti-gay enough for the Republican base. A governor who actually signed a gay marriage law would be dead in the water during a GOP primary race.

Jay Jonson

January 9th, 2012

Christie has three options. He can sign the law (which he certainly will not do). He can veto the law (which he may well do). But he can also simply do nothing, which will allow the law to take effect but without his signature. If he thinks there is a possibility that enough Republicans will break from their caucus and support an override of a veto, he may well decide simply to let the bill become law without his signature. He can say that he thinks it is unnecessary, that gay couples already have all the rights that marriage would provide, but that he does not want to divide the state with a messy battle over gay marriage. He could also say that he wants to avoid the expensive legal battle before the state Supreme Court, which will soon hear arguments on whether the civil unions remedy actually accomplished what the New Jersey Supreme Court said they should: provide equal rights for same-sex couples.

In any case, Christie will be forced to make a decision.


January 9th, 2012

I will be sending in an EXTRA donation to the New Jersey Democrats who fight for our rights, regardless of their motivations, to offset those withheld by “Others”.

…and BTW, Governor Helicopter/Heart Attack/Jackie Gleason does not have the physical wear-with-all to run for President,… maybe the Republicans will have to fall back on Liar Rubio – haha!

Warmest Personal Regards,


January 9th, 2012

I have had a LOT of conservative friends honestly ask what the difference is, and why do I care about “marriage” versus “civil unions”, etc. As a community we need to do a better job about communicating why Civil Unions are not the same as marriage on a structural level, not just a moral / rights / emotional level.

Conservatives who are open to hearing an answer to this question, and there are many, are pretty immune the standard arguments of equality etc when it hinges on the use of a particular word. They don’t disagree about that per se, but they’re MUCH more swayed by practical considerations – including the notion that separate institutions in separate buckets means that our marriages can be repealed at any time by plebiscite or fiat, or that the IRS doesn’t necessarily treat them the same, or that in many states they don’t do the same thing at all.

When they realize that the two are completely separate – and I swear to you that many ears are open – their response is often “well, that’s just stupid, why can’t they just… ” And then we win.

We’re making our case. We’re winning over our friends and allies. But we need to have a practical bumper-sticker length message out there: Civil Unions are not the same as marriage structurally or legally, and the sooner this gets resolved, the sooner we can get back to guns and football and complaining about big government. OK, that doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker. But I’m open to editorial assistance there.

Timothy Kincaid

January 9th, 2012


I think that perhaps the best response is to ask why conservative friends believe that there needs to be distinction AND, if so, why it is that heterosexuals not take civil unions instead.

None will leap at this option. Because they know that civil unions are inferior. Intuitively.

So then just ask them why it is that they insist that someone else accept what they would refuse. That is the heart of the issue.

If you try to discuss structure, then the solution is to revise structure. If you put this in terms of reality – that civil unions exist solely for one purpose: to delegate gay couples to a lesser status – then they must then address that they hold this attitude.

Remember, denying equality is not about gay people. It is about those who don’t want gay people to be equal. You are just signing up for what everyone else gets and have no obligation to explain yourself. They are the ones who need to explain why they are denying to you what they value for themselves.

Now many will be fine with believing that you are inferior to them. Some will happily tell you so.

At which point you can either agree with them that you are inferior or let them know that as your friendship moves forward (or dissolves), you recognize that they hold you in contempt and that this character flaw in them impacts your valuation of them. Remember, this is about them, not you.

What you CANNOT do is pretend that you “agree to disagree” or that their support of discrimination is okay on any level. To do so provides them with all the ammunition that they need to dismiss your concerns. Because if, like Sarah Palin’s hypothetical gay friends, you don’t take your worth seriously, why should they?

Regan DuCasse

January 9th, 2012

Excellent point, Tim K. The onus of proving worthy of marriage is unfairly placed on gay people. I have asked that of those who oppose equality, and after a fashion they simply don’t feel obligated to answer.
This reminds me of the kerfuffle with Ms. Christofsen and El Coyote. She’s had a great deal of gay patrons for decades. Who helped her family maintain their prosperity along with the rest of her customers.
Yet, she decided to vote for Prop. 8 and helped to effectively take away hard won and needed marriage for gay people in this state. You saw how she behaved when she was busted on that. As if she was going to be or was victimized by people she publicly and defended herself by calling her friends.

What she did, if gay people WERE her friends, is essentially say they were only good enough as long as she could profit from them, and they unquestioningly didn’t challenge her betrayal.
If gay people REALLY were her friends, she’d have understood the stakes involved in being able to marry, and gladly would have respected and appreciated equal rights that supported their very lives.
And considering the slanderous and lying responses of her supporters, you would have thought SHE was the one betrayed and not the other way around.

What all of this does, is prove the moral character of a person. It tests their character as true, or phony. Whether they have one face, or two.
Too bad if they don’t like what it makes them look like, and if they can face anyone who cares and how they’ll do so.
It also separates the courageous from the cowardly.
And liars from the truthful.
Why would someone of PROFESSED sterling character be afraid of that test?

Timothy Kincaid

January 9th, 2012


Margie – like Sarah Palin and thousands of others who “have gay friends” – defines friendship as a one-way street.

They say things like “my friends know what I believe” and “if you’re my friend you accept me and my beliefs”. They care only what they can get from a friendship – i.e. validation.

For me, if you are my friend, you don’t do things which hurt me or which make my life unnecessarily difficult. If you do these things, you are not a friend but merely an acquaintance at best.

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