New Jersey Superior Court: state must offer marriage to same-sex couples (updated)
September 27th, 2013
In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the state must offer the same rights and obligations to same sex couples that it offered to opposite sex couples. However, they allowed the legislature to create civil unions rather than marriage. However, when the US Supreme Court ruled that DOMA3 was unconstitutional, this changed the situation. Currently, the State of New Jersey offers two forms of couple recognition; heterosexuals get a type recognized by the Federal Government, while gays get a type that does not have federal recognition.
Today Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled – in summary judgment – that New Jersey must offer marriage licenses to same sex couples. (NBC)
“The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts,” the judge said.
“Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution,” she wrote.
The ruling does not mean that same-sex marriages will begin immediately in New Jersey. The state has until Oct. 21 to either appeal or start the process to allow gay marriages.
Now it will fall upon Governor Chris Christie to decide whether to appeal the decision. While Christie has stated opposition to same-sex marriage (he favors civil unions), the voters in the state overwhelmingly support marriage equality.
At present, Christie’s position hasn’t hurt him and he holds a double-digit lead in polls for reelection. But this could go in several directions. If he appeals, it could serve as a reminder to the voters that he does not share their values. I doubt it would seriously hurt his chances for reelection, but it could hurt him in future contests.
Or, he could see this as an opportunity to do nothing and have a potentially troublesome issue go away. It seems increasingly likely that his marriage veto could be overturned with Republican support and Christie may prefer that his authority not appear to be challenged.
UPDATE: Christie has released a statement (Politico)
In a statement about an hour after the ruling, Christie’s press secretary said “Governor Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day. Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”
That sounds to me like he’ll be making an appeal.
New Jersey: Maggie Gallagher Gets It Wrong
August 21st, 2013
Maggie has finally weighed in on New Jersey’s law banning reparative therapy. She’s been holding off: “I will read the bill Chris Christie signed carefully before I issue any statement, if I do.”
Apparently Maggie didn’t read it carefully enough. She now says:
Governor Chris Christie has just put his name to a bill that uses the power of government to strip both parents and teenagers of the right to seek competent, professional help to live their life in accordance with their own values. The bill does not ban a specific kind of destructive therapy; it is a blanket ban on any licensed counseling professional helping any teenager who does not wish to act on gay (or transgender) desire. Not only efforts to change orientation but efforts to change behavior are forbidden, under penalty of law.
Governor Christie just endorsed a law that thus excludes many gay teens who wish to live in accordance with Bible-based values from the circle of care; he has outright banned chastity as a goal of counseling. [emphasis added]
Maggie’s careful reading was actually quite sloppy. I guess she’s alarmed by this part of the bill’s wording:
“sexual orientation change efforts” means the practice of seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors… [emphasis added]
If Maggie stopped reading there, then it might have sounded like a ban on chastity counseling. But if she’d kept going she’d have read section 2.b. in full:
except that sexual orientation change efforts shall not include…counseling that…does not seek to change sexual orientation.
In other words, therapists are allowed to try and change patients’ behaviors (gay or straight), as long as they don’t try to change patients’ sexual orientation (gay or straight). Christie has in no way “outright banned chastity as a goal of counseling.”
I can’t say that Maggie is deliberately lying. The bill’s structure is a bit confusing. Really, though, Maggie’s paid to get these things right. But she didn’t, so get ready to hear this grievously wrong talking point again and again.
Gov. Christie To Sign Conversion Therapy Ban (Updated)
August 19th, 2013
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is expected to sign legislation today which would ban licensed therapists from providing sexual orientation conversion therapy to minors. The bill was passed by the New Jersey legislature last June, with veto-proof majorities in both houses. With today’s expected signing, New Jersey will become the second state, after California, to impose such a ban:
“Government should tread carefully into this area,” he said in the signing note, which was obtained by The Associated Press, “and I do so here reluctantly.”
“However, I also believe that on the issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards,” Christie said, citing a litany of potential ill effects of trying to change sexual orientation, including depression and suicide. “I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”
Troy Stevenson, of Garden State Equality, praised the governor’s move, and hope that it would be a first step toward Christie’s reversing his position on marriage equality. He vetoed a marriage equality bill in 2012.
Update: it’s signed, and Gov. Christie’s office has released the full statement:
Assembly Bill No. 3371, which I have signed today, prohibits individuals who are licensed to provide professional counseling under Title 45 of the New Jersey statutes from attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation.
At the outset of this debate, I expressed my concerns about government limiting parental choice on the care and treatment of their own children. I still have those concerns. Government should tread carefully into this area and I do so here reluctantly. I have scrutinized this piece of legislation with that concern in mind.
However, I also believe that on issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards. The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self- esteem and suicidal thoughts.
I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate. Based upon this analysis, I sign this bill into law.
ACLU Announces Three Marriage Lawsuits
July 9th, 2013
Fresh off its victory in Windsor v. U.S. which struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, the ACLU’s is filing three more lawsuits, in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia. In Whitewood v. Corbett, the ACLU is challenging Pennsylvania’s statute which bans same-sex marriage. In Fisher-Borne v. Smith, the ACLU will amend its lawsuit seeking adoption rights to include the right to marriage. In the Virginia case, the ACLU and Lambda Legal are still in the planning stages, with plaintiffs and precise details of the case still being worked out. They expect to file that lawsuit later this summer.
Meanwhile, the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have filed a motion with the New Mexico Supreme Court, asking it to order state officials to allow same-sex couples to marry. State law is currently silent on the question. Other lawsuits are working their way through Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey and Michigan.
NJ Senate Sends Conversion Therapy Ban To Gov’s Desk
June 27th, 2013
In a 28-9 vote, the New Jersey Senate approved A3371, a bill which would prohibit the state’s licensed mental health professionals from providing Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) to minors. The Senate vote comes swiftly after the Assembly approved the measure on Monday.
The measure now goes to Gov. Chris Christie (R) for his signature. Christie has stated his opposition to conversion therapy in the past, but he hasn’t indicated whether he will sign this bill.
Next Step: civil union states
June 26th, 2013
The overturn of DOMA3 provides a number of benefits for citizens of the marriage equality states. But it simultaneously creates a situation of discrimination for those who live in civil union states.
Before today same-sex couples in New Jersey, for example, had all of the same rights as married couples in New York. That is to say, both were afforded all of the marriage rights and obligations that a state confers but none of the federal rights or obligations. Now, however, New York same-sex couples can avail themselves of a whole host of federal benefits while New Jersey couples remain subjected to a lesser status – not only in name, but in practice.
Currently the states with civil unions (or domestic partnerships) are Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, and Oregon (Wisconsin offers limited rights). Of these, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon are banned by state constitution from offering equal marriage status to same-sex couples. Which leaves our next battlegrounds to be Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey.
In Hawaii, the legislature has been either voting down (or letting die) marriage equality bills, including one submitted in January of this year. However, this changes the picture and it is likely that marriage will finally come to the state which brought the issue to the nation’s attention.
Illinois’ speaker of the House let die a marriage bill just last month. Equality is likely when the House reconvenes in November.
But New Jersey will be the interesting battle. Governor Christie vetoed a marriage bill in February 2012. But he has also supported civil unions and asserted that “discrimination should not be tolerated”. Although marriage and civil unions simply are not equal, his position was not necessarily contradictory before today.
Now, however, a state can decide if federal benefits should be afforded to their gay citizens. Should the legislature send Christie another marriage bill – and I anticipate that they will – he will have to decide whether he opposes unequal treatment or whether he supports tradition and the teachings of his church. And as Christie has presidential aspirations, this might be the first indicator as to whether the Republican Party can acclimate to the new reality.
New Jersey Assembly Approves Conversion Therapy Ban
June 25th, 2013
Supporters of the bill, including the American Psychological and American Psychiatric associations, have called the practice damaging and demoralizing, while opponents have accused state lawmakers of interfering with the counselor-patient relationship and intruding on parents’ rights.
…The bill’s Assembly sponsor, Tim Eustace (D-Bergen) called the practice, “an insidious form of child abuse. The Assembly approved the bill, (A3371) by a 56-14 vote with seven abstentions.
The bill will now to to the Senate. Gov. Chris Christie (R) has not said whether he will sign the measure, although he has spoken out againztr conversion therapy generally.
NJ Assembly Committee Moves Conversion Therapy Ban
June 13th, 2013
The New Jersey Assembly’s Women and Children’s Committee voted to approve A3371, which would prohibit licensed therapists in the sate of New Jersey from providing therapies intended to change sexual orientation to minors. The 4-1 vote (with one abstention) occurred after two and a half hours of testimony by opponents and supporters, including Parsippany High School student Jacob Rudolph, who told the panel “I am not broken, I am not confused. I do not need to be fixed.”
“Our government has an obligation to protect children in our society – individuals who are unable to make their own legal decisions. Our government therefore has an obligation to prohibit the fraudulent and cruel practice of conversion therapy from being imposed on minors,” Rudolph said.
Jean Mercer, a developmental psychologist and retired Stockton College professor, said the only research that supports conversion therapy is “fraught with inaccuracies and omissions.”
“If conversions therapies had been shown to be necessary, safe and effective, discomfort associated with them might be acceptable, as we accept a certain amount of discomfort with medical treatments. Because they have not, we must consider whether in fact these treatments are abusive,” Mercer said.
Christopher Doyle a counselor at the California-based International Healing Foundation and a former homosexual, said the stories about this form of therapy forced on minors are distorted and untrue. He said he has been providing this therapy for four years, assisting as many as 150 clients with “unwanted same sex attractions who come to me wanting to change.”
The International Healing Foundation is run by ex-gay gadfly Richard Cohen, who was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association in 2002 for multiple ethical violations. He has been criticized for his unorthodox holding technique for “curing” gay people.
The bill now goes to the floor of the Assembly and the Senate.
Marriage update – North America
January 25th, 2013
It’s getting marriagey all over the place. And it’s also getting hard to keep track of what is going on where. So here is an update to help (which will probably be outdated by the time I hit “publish”).
Canada – Marriage has been equal since 2005.
Mexico – Marriage is equal in Mexico City, and marriages conducted there are recognize throughout the nation. However, in December, the Supreme Court unanimously found that an anti-gay marriage law in Oaxaca was unconstitutional. Due to Mexico’s complicated legal system, this means that marriages are highly likely to eventually be legal throughout the nation, but the process requires that five same-sex couples in each state file an amparo (civil rights claim) and that the court issue the same ruling on each. It may take some time for the legality of the state by state process to catch up, but the reality is that any Mexican couple wishing to marry probably can, either immediately or through petition.
United States – Several locales provide or have provided marriage equally:
- Massachusetts –
- California – 2008, but rescinded that year
- Connecticut – 2008
- Vermont – 2009
- Iowa – 2009
- New Hampshire – 2010
- The District of Columbia – 2010
- New York – 2011
- Washington – 2012
- Maryland – 2012
- Maine – 2013
In addition, two Native American tribes, the Coquille in Oregon and the Suquamish in Washington provide marriage equally to their members.
Current and upcoming movement on the marriage front includes:
* DOMA3 – several federal courts have found the federal prohibition on recognition of legally married same-sex couples – the Defense of Marriage Act, Section 3 – to be unconstitutional on several grounds. The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear one case, Windsor v. the United States, a case in which Edie Windsor was assessed in excess of $300,000 in inheritance tax from her wife’s estate, a tax that does not apply to heterosexuals. On Tuesday, the special counsel for the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (at the direction of House Speaker John Boehner) filed its arguments in defense of the law (I’ll try to get an analysis up soon). It argued that BLAG has standing to support the law, that only rational basis should apply to anti-gay discrimination, that the nation needs uniform recognition, and that states should be allowed to decline to offer equality if they so choose (thus, I assume, vetoing other states in the name of uniformity). Today Professor Victoria C. Jackson will, at the court’s request, filing a brief insisting that BLAG has no standing and on February 26th, Windsor’s team will present arguments as to why she should not be discriminated against. Oral arguments before SCOTUS will be on March 27th, and the Court will likely release it’s ruling in June. Whichever way it goes, it will probably only impact couples in states which allow marriage.
* Proposition 8 – this is the highest profile case, but it could end up having the least legal effect. In 2008, the California Supreme Court found the state’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage to be a violation of the state’s constitution. For several months, same-sex couples could legally marry, but in November the voters approved Proposition 8 by 52%, ending marriage equality in the Golden State. In May 2009, Ted Olson, one of the most prominent Republican attorneys and David Boies, one of the most prominent Democratic attorneys, teamed up to fight for the legal overturn of that proposition. In January 2010, though cameras were banned from the courtroom, the nation was captivated by the reporting about the case – a trial not only on the legality of the proposition but also on its merits. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker eventually found the proposition to violate the US Constitution on broad grounds. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, but on much narrower grounds: that a state cannot provide a right to all citizens and then take it away from a select few. Last month the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal, but added the question as to whether the proponents defending the law (the Governor and Attorney General declined to do so) have standing. On Tuesday the proponents of the law filed their brief (I’ll try to get an analysis up soon). Olson and Boies have until February 21st to respond, and oral arguments will be on March 26th with a likely result in June. While the Court could find that the US Constitution guarantees marriage equality across the land, it could also choose to narrow its ruling to the unique issues of the case and only impact Californians.
* Rhode Island – on Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the marriage bill. The full House voted in favor today 51-19. However, the Senate is less certain. Although Rhode Island is virtually a single-party state (the Senate has 32 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent), the Senate President, Teresa Paiva-Weed, is an opponent to equality. She has said that she will allow a committee to hear the matter, but in times past she has made certain that committees were selected to prevent equality.
I have started a petition at Change.org to request that should Paiva-Weed obstruct or block the passage of this bill, that Rhode Island State Senators remove her from power. Please go sign this petition.
* Illinois – a marriage bill was submitted during the first week of the year in a lame-duck session. Due to difficulty in corralling members returning from holiday, the vote never took place.
After the new legislature was is session, the bill was reintroduced. Currently the status is a bit in limbo as the bill is yet to be sent to committee.
However, that does not mean that there is no excitement, just that it’s happening outside the legislature and in an unexpected arena. The GOP chairman has come out in favor of marriage, which has angered social conservatives in the state. Bit though they are demanding his resignation and threatening ouster, the party insiders are lining up behind the chairman. At the moment it seem like the prevailing position may end up, “we may not support equality, but we support those who do.” In any case, this latest public squabble serves our community well.
* Minnesota – fresh off a victory in turning back an anti-marriage bill in November, Minnesotans for All Families is fighting on and will present a marriage bill to the legislature next month. The political strategist who generaled the battle is staying on to finish the war.
Polls are breaking even in the state and the DFL (Democratic) party has a slim lead in each house, so they will have their work cut out for them. But I would be surprised if the state did not take some movement towards couple recognition.
* Colorado – supporters filed an everything-but-the-name Civil Unions bill which is pretty much guaranteed to pass. More than half of each house has signed on as sponsors. This is as far as that state can go at present, as there is a state constitutional ban on equality.
* Wyoming – out of pretty much nowhere and flying way below the radar, lesbian Sen. Cathy Connolly has file both a domestic partnership bill and a marriage bill. Both have significant Republican support.
They may not be attracting much buzz on these bills due to party power; Republicans dominate both houses by overwhelming numbers. But Wyoming Republicans are traditionally pretty libertarian in their thinking and local papers are mostly quoting the bills’ Republican cosponsors. It may be early yet, but so far there doesn’t appear to be any visible organized opposition. I would not be altogether shocked if one of the bills passed or, at least, got a decent vote.
* New Jersey – the legislature of this state has already passed a marriage bill which was vetoed by the governor. However there are the paths to equality that might be achievable.
One is to take it to the people. But though a supporter brought such a bill, it was quickly dismissed due to the inherent insult of voting on a minority’s civil rights. (Personally, I’d rather win at the polls that fight over whether its an insult to do so.)
The second path, the one favored by equality leaders in the state, is to continue building support one by one until we have the numbers to override a veto. That would require substantial Republican support and this would be held off until after the next primary to minimize conservative backlash.
The third possibility doesn’t appear likely, but it shouldn’t be written off. Governor Chris Christie is a politician, and politicians are susceptible to evolution.
Christie made his mark in the Republican Party by being hard nose on fiscal issues but being more progressive on social issues. He was the poster boy for supporting civil unions, a position that made him seem ahead of the curve. As the Party moves away from anti-gay hostility, he may find it necessary to move as well. It’s not a bet I’d take, but it’s not outside the realm if possible for the Governor to hold to his views but still find some way to allow marriage to become law.
* Hawaii – I’ve no idea why marriage hasn’t already become law.
I think it can be hardest sometimes in states in which one party dominates. In mega-red states, we have little hope (though i just made a case for Wyoming). But in all-blue states, its not always much better. There’s no reason for Democrats to show the voters the difference between them and Republicans, so they fell less pressure to live up to their potential.
I’m sure I’ve missed some state in there. And, of course, you have to always expect that something completely unexpected will happen.
Tomorrow I’ll try to provide an update for Europe and South America.
Yesterday, a state representative in Hawaii filed a bill for marriage equality. She had no cosponsors. Also yesterday, 15 representatives filed a bill calling for a constitutional amendment banning equality. It was also introduced in the senate. Additionally, a state senator filed a pair of ‘take it to the people’ bills which would have voters choose to either allow or ban marriage in the constitution (he’s an opponent of equality). All in all, it looks dire for marriage in Hawaii.
What they said…
June 25th, 2012
They said that if Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell was repealed that homosexuals would cause chaos for the Military and – if allowed to have their relationships recognized on base – would make a mockery of marriage in a holy space. (Army Times)
“We are so honored to be a part of this historic moment to be one of the first gay couples allowed to unite in a civil union on a military base,” the couple said in a statement after the ceremony.
“We hope to be an inspiration to others in the LGBT community that struggle with the challenge of marriage equality. And that this issue is not just about the military, but the equal sacrifice and shared burdens of our loved ones who are civilians.”
They said that chaplains were horrified and feared being pressured into performing marriages against their will.
It was presided over by Kay Reeb, a Navy chaplain with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who also serves at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
Reeb, who had never presided over a civil union ceremony before, said she was delighted to take part.
“I told them the same thing I tell every couple — love each other and trust in each other and in God, that’s what keeps us together,” he said.
They said that if allowed to serve openly, everyone would suffer: the heterosexuals who would be made uncomfortable and have their deep religious beliefs offended and the homosexuals who be subjected to abuse.
Air Force Capt. Ryan Quinn, who also attended the event, said he was “amazed by the beauty” of the ceremony.
“I really do think this is an important event. And I was happy to be here with them and their families,” he said. “The amount of support I’ve seen for them from the people (at the base) and the military community makes me proud to serve in the Air Force.”
Somehow, I think the changes we see for the better are due at least in part by people listening – and weighing – what they said.
NJ Dems nix gay black Supreme Court nominee
May 31st, 2012
According to the Washington Post, Bruce Harris was rejected by the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee:
Democrats who control the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Harris’ lack of courtroom experience and vow to recuse himself from deciding gay marriage cases.
Harris says his prior support of gay marriage creates a perception that he would be biased on the issue.
The 61-year-old would have been the state’s third black justice and the court’s first openly gay jurist.
This is disappointing.
But while sad, it’s also an odd illustration of how politics works. In a display of partisanship, it was the Democrats who voted against – and the Republicans who voted for – the gay, black, marriage equality activist. In a weird way I guess that can be viewed as progress.
Star-Ledger’s opinion about NOM
April 2nd, 2012
New Jersey’s biggest newspaper (by far) has released an editorial on the National Organization for Marriage:
It is sick beyond words that a group to “save” marriage would exploit racial and ethnic divisions, stir intolerance and fear, and even rip families apart by pitting children against parents. In their self-described “battle,” they come across as the biggest losers of all.
Its not looking like a happy week at the NOM office and today is only Monday.
Christie Vetoes New Jersey Marriage Bill
February 17th, 2012
As expected, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed the marriage equality bill that passed the House yesterday and the Senate on Monday. In his veto message, Christie asserted that civil unions should be just as good as marriage, and that “Discrimination should not be tolerated and any complaint alleging a violation of a citizen’s right should be investigated and, if appropriate, remedied.” He also continue to insist that putting American citizens’ rights up to a vote is the best way to deal with this issue, and suggested appointing an ombudsman to address problems with New Jersey’s civil union law.
You know, if he had just let the bill become law after 45 days without a signature, Garden Staters wouldn’t have a use for an ombudsman. Christie’s suggestion is pure nonsense. The mere fact that Christie thinks its a good idea to appoint an ombudsman for civil unions is prima facie evidence that civil unions aren’t equal to marriage.
But hey. At least he won’t have a Romney-style marriage problem when he runs for president in 2016. His career is still in the clear.
UPDATE: Garden State Equality’s Steven Goldstein reacted to Christie’s ombudsman proposal:
In vetoing the marriage equality bill, Governor Christie’s offer to create a civil union ombudsman is the very essence of the political theatre he decries.
How in the world would a civil union ombudsman enforce the civil union law for New Jersey couples who work in New York, a state that recognizes marriage equality – would New York State actually deputize a New Jersey civil union ombudsman to work within its own borders? How in the world would a civil union ombudsman deal with the children being raised by same-sex couples – children stigmatized at school by questions about the perceived inferiority of their families because of the second-class civil union label? How in the world would a civil union ombudsman deal with the assault on the dignity faced by civil union couples by hospitals and employers who understand the civil union law perfectly well – but sneer at the relationship of couples who aren’t married?
A civil union ombudsman might well be the country’s first-ever Enforcer of Discrimination – and worse. A civil union ombudsman is nothing more than the shameless dressing up of a veto of people’s dignity and equality – the equivalent of gold-plating a separate water fountain for a specific class of people.
In my opinion, Christie’s ombudsman idea is just as looney as his suggestion that we would have been better off if African-Americans’ civil rights had been put to a popular vote in the South during the 1960s.
Goldstein to Christie on impending veto
February 17th, 2012
I have tremendous respect for Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality. His is the style of pragmatic goal-driven activism not distracted by personality or partisanship that I wish I could pull off. And his statement on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s impending veto of the marriage bill illustrates just how capable he is in finding reality while not letting go of the dream and in clarifying the consequences of each.
As we await the Governor’s veto of the marriage equality bill, I beg your indulgence if this statement is a bit more personal than usual. Many in Trenton know that Governor Christie and I have a good relationship. This may come as a surprise, and even disappointment, to some of Garden State Equality’s members, but I like the Governor personally even though I agree with him on almost nothing.
I came of political age where leaders who disagree passionately on the issues, who even fight with one another like cats and dogs in the political arena, were able put the fights aside and see one another as people. I grew up at a time when the legendary Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House, Tip O?Neill – a hero of mine – and President Reagan did exactly that. And it’s always been my philosophy in dealing with Governor Christie and his Administration.
And having worked for several public officials myself, I know there’s a heck of lot more to them than their public images would suggest. No public figure is the two-dimensional character of the headlines. As Garden State Equality’s leader, I have worked closely with this Governor on issues upon which we agree, notably to counter school bullying.
As I have said before, where we agree with them on the issues, Governor Christie and his Administration have treated us with warmth and responsiveness. Yes is yes, no is no, and we’ll get back to you means they get back to you faster than you thought, usually with invaluable help.
And that’s precisely why Governor Christie’s veto of the marriage equality bill will hurt so badly. We’re not naïve – we’ve always known he would veto the bill, and frankly, I was always a bit puzzled by the silly tea-leaf reading and phantasmagoric hopes that perhaps the Governor would look deep inside his heart and let the bill become law. Ridiculous. I know this Governor, and when he says he’ll do something, take him at his word, for better and here for worse.
It’s why I chose not to waste a breath in pleading with the Governor not to veto – and have put Garden State Equality immediately to work to achieve an override. The great news is, we have until the end of the legislative session, in January 2014, to do it.
That doesn’t obviate the pain of the Governor’s veto. Because I do know him, I also know he is not some anti-LGBT nut. He is no Rick Santorum. Frankly, I don’t think Chris Christie has an anti-gay bone in his body, however much I cannot say the same about his impending veto. His veto will be a brutally anti-gay act, pure and simple.
The Governor keeps calling for a referendum, which everyone knows will never happen in New Jersey. To borrow the Governor’s words, it’s time for him to stop engaging in political theater. Our lives are not La Cage Aux Folles: LGBT people fall in love, raise families, often children whom the rest of society shuns, and pay taxes in what is still one of the most heavily taxed states in the country.
Our Governor knows our contributions to society. He won’t veto the bill because he’s anti-gay. He’ll veto the bill because the 2016 South Carolina Republican Presidential primary electorate is anti-gay. And if I get flooded with letters now from Charleston, so be it.
And that’s what hurts so badly. I like this Governor and am able to see him beyond the headlines. When you are rejected by someone you want so badly to love you unconditionally – my own parents have taught me what that’s like – the pain is searing. Rick Santorum I can live with. Gerry Cardinale I can live with, too. But Chris Christie’s rejection? That hurts.
Governor, rest assured that even though I came of political age in an era where political adversaries could be friends – and if you’re game, we’ll continue that good relationship – Garden State Equality and I will continue to fight you on marriage equality with every bone in our bodies. You would expect no less.
For us, this is not about politics. This is about our fundamental American right to conduct our lives with a full life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Equality.
And until we achieve it, we will fight with our every last breath. And we will win, so help me God.
NJ House Passes Marriage Equality
February 16th, 2012
The vote was 42-33, and the bill now goes to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk where he promises to veto it. No Republicans voted for the bill, while four Democrats voted against. The Assembly vote was 12 votes shy of the 54 needed to override the veto. Monday’s bipartisan 24-16 Senate vote approving the measure is just three votes shy of the override bar. Senate President Stephen Sweeny called on Christie to sign the bill:
“Marriage equality will happen in New Jersey,” Sweeney said in a statement. “The only question that remains is whether Governor Christie will be on the right or wrong side of history.”
Assuming Christie follows through on his veto promise, marriage supports will have until the end of the legislative session in January 2014 to build support to override the veto.