NJ Assembly Panel Advances Marriage Equality Bill; Christie Calls Himself ‘Magnanimous’ for Suggesting Referendum

The Judiciary Committee of the New Jersey General Assembly heard more than five hours of often heated testimony this afternoon on  the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act before advancing the bill along party lines in a 5-2 vote, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Referendum_christieBloomberg reports that the bill still needs to pick up votes in the full Assembly:

Democrats have about 34 Assembly votes of the 41 needed to pass the measure and “are picking up more every minute,” said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat and a co-sponsor.

The bill needs 21 Senate votes to move to Christie’s desk. Senate Democrats have scheduled a Feb. 13 vote by the full chamber, Derek Roseman, a spokesman for Senate President Stephen Sweeney, said in an e-mail.

Governor Chris Christie today called himself "magnanimous" for calling for a voter referendum on same-sex marriage:

“The polls that I’ve seen show that if this goes to the ballot, I lose,” the Republican governor, who opposes same-sex marriage, told about 400 people at a town-hall meeting in Denville. “How much more magnanimous could I be?”

Christie, 49, has said he would veto a law permitting gay nuptials, arguing that voters should decide the issue and that he would abide by the results. The first-term governor said he would direct Republican lawmakers to support a bill that would create a November referendum. Democrats said gay marriage is a civil right that shouldn’t be subject to a popular vote. The Senate president said today there won’t be a referendum.


  1. Paul R says

    So he knows the will of the people and that his view is wrong, yet still wants a referendum and consider that generous? Such an idiot.

  2. Timzilla says

    Restaurants and fast food joints in New Jersey need to magnanimously refuse service to Governor Christie.

  3. Michael says

    WTF is this guy’s problem? He should be admired for allowing the civil rights of a group be put up to a vote even though this group has lost every time it’s been voted upon??? WTF? He seems to be digging his grave more and more with each quote.

  4. KP says

    As much as I loathe him, Christie has been politically brillant here: first, when the push for same sex marriage was annouced, he said he would “think about the bill” when it came to his desk. This gave gay rights advocates false hope and drew their attention away from Christie. Then he appointed Bruce Harris, seemly just because he is a gay black man, which caused the head of the state’s marriage equality group to basically write a love letter to the governor on the group’s Facebook page. Optimism all around – maybe the governor was coming around; at the very least there are several Republicans who have privately said they would vote for same sex marriage and Christie doesn’t seem that invested in preventing them from doing so.

    Then the other shoe dropped. During Senate testimony, Christie announced his support for a referendum, which took much needed attention away from the hearings. Then his gay Supreme Court candidate announced he would recuse himself from the upcoming civil union lawsuit, simply because he once wrote a pro-gay marriage email. With Christie directing the GOP to support a referendum, the Republicans who might have voted yes are now too scared to cross him. Finally, he is pointing out that a majority of voters support same sex marriage. Seems counter to his views but it helps draw attention to the fact that Democrats don’t want a public vote. The onus is now on the Democrats to prove why they don’t want a vote if a majority want Same sex marriage.

    End result – Christie will veto the bill, the Republicans will be too cowardly to cross him, and the Democrats will have to defend their decision to not hold a vote, even though the governor himself said it would pass. Christie wins out in the end. I’d be in awe of him if I didn’t want to throw up right now.

  5. Mary says

    My guess is that Christie is pro-SSM but doesn’t want political fallout from this. If he officially opposes SSM and says he’ll veto a marriage bill he’s safe within the Republican fold. Calling for a referendum is perfect for him. If it passes he can always say that as with NOM, he favored “letting the people vote.” Hard to see Maggie and Brian blaming him if the residents of NJ end up being liberal on this issue. NJ is not a socially conservative state.

  6. Mary says

    I understand the feelings of pro-SSM supporters who claim “People shouldn’t be allowed to vote on civil rights.” But that is in fact just what we’re trying to determine – whether or not same-sex marriage IS a civil right. Something isn’t a civil right just because some group, large or small, decides to label it so. The society has to come to some agreement to grant it that status.

    And yes, its true we wouldn’t want people to vote to undo the civil rights of blacks, but in theory nothing stops them from doing something this heinous though regular voting, let alone referenda. There is never a guarantee that the people will side with justice. This is a risk you take when you have representative government in any form.

    Nor does it make much sense to say that once something is considered “a right” it can’t ever be removed. Aren’t we saying with this statement that we can never made a mistake on anything? And if so, is this conceit a trait we’d want to brag about?

    Just some thoughts for the evening!

  7. searunner says

    @Mary, except in case after case after case SCOTUS has said marriage is a civil and fundamental right.

  8. Brian says

    No, Mary you are absolutely wrong on this, or at least in direct contravention of the will of the founding fathers and the constitution. The founding fathers were virtually unanimous in fearing unchecked citizen democracy, considering it the equivalent of mob rule. If they really wanted that, we wouldn’t need a constitution, judiciary or legislature, just keep voting on everything and an executive would implement the will of the crowd.

    Instead, the constitution clearly outlines a system of checks and balances, and further amendments grant us certain rights that can’t be tampered with by the majority. The founding fathers were extremely concerned with the tendency for majorities to trample on the rights of minorities, and the independent judiciary was created to ensure that these rights are protected. We see this again and again in the course of civil rights history, it almost always starts with the judiciary protecting the minority group from the minority. For bigoted reasons conservatives decided that gays weren’t entitled to this protection, and attacked the “activist judiciary”, even though the judiciary is the only institution equipped to answer your question, what are civil rights. So we now have state governments enacting gay marriage to overcome conservative horror of judges actually doing their jobs. And now, all of the sudden, conservatives want to ignore legislatures as well as the judiciary, and devolve all power to the people. Well, I can guarantee that if you follow down this path on all issues, the republican party will not like the result. So apparently on almost all issues, except gay marriage, the people’s will is to be ignored since the odds of a referendum resulting in tax cuts for the very wealthy are extremely low. But, just on gay issues, we need to throw this open to the crowd. Of course, this is the one sort of issue that our revered founding fathers would never have wanted to be voted on by the people, but never mind, conservatives only revere the founding fathers when it suits their purposes.

    Just some facts for the evening!

  9. Bob R says

    The Founding Fathers feared that minorities would be subjected to the “tyranny of the majority” and that is why they decided to give us a representative democracy, or a Republic as opposed to a direct democracy. Madison discussed this at length and it was addressed in the Federalist Papers. The Founders knew that it would not be fair to allow the majority to “rule” or subjugate a minority of the population with bad laws without recourse. This is why we have elected representatives to write and vote on legislation, a president to approve or veto legislation and a Supreme Court to confirm or challenge the Constitutionality of legislation as opposed to a direct vote on issues by the populace. Also, in the early days of the Republic, not everyone had the right to vote, ie, women.

    Christie is up for re-election, should he choose to run again, in 2013. Polls show a clear majority of NJ voters will not support Christie in a second term. He’s not even popular with Republicans in his state. Although he is not a presidential candidate in the 2012 race, it is believed he would accept the VP slot if offered. Or, he may also be hoping for a cabinet post if Romney defeats Obama. Christie is trying to position himself for a possible 2016 GOP Presidential run. So, he has to hedge his bets right now until the strength or demise of the Tea Party is reinforced.

    I read and have been told that Christie is a very clever and astute politician who knows how to position himself. In this case, if he vetoes Marriage Equality he’ll make points with the GOP/TP. If after a veto, there is no override, there will be a referendum, maybe on the 2012 ballot. Having marriage equality on the 2012 ballot will help Romney (if he’s the GOP candidate) since it will assure a good turnout by the GOP right wingers, who not very fond of Romney might sit out the election if Marriage Equality is not on the ballot as a motivator. Remember, the GOP has been very successful in getting divisive issues on the ballot to motivate their base to GOTV. Christie is very clever and very treacherous, as are all Republicans. He sees this as a win-win if not for him then for the GOP.

  10. a confused conservative says

    I understand the feelings of the Jewish people in their antagonism to the concentration camps, and I personally would never have sent them, but once there I think the proper thing to do is make the best of it. No one likes whiners.

    Just some more thoughts for a winter’s eve.

  11. Mary says

    “Confused,” it is ridiculous to compare the quest for gay marriage with opposition to anti-semitism. Gays are not in concentration camps, and no one with any respectable following advocates putting gays in prison or throwing them out of the country. This is about making a profound change in society’s definition of marriage and what constitutes a family. It seems to me that you’re just after shock value. But I wonder…are you Kiwi under a pseudonym?

  12. enough already says

    Except, Mary, that supporting same sex families is a family value.
    Something you christians pretend, otherwise, to support.
    You’re lying through your teeth and you know it.

    This is a constitutional republic, not a fascist christian theocracy. Your fears and your hatred have no basis in ruling our country.

  13. Mary says

    “E.A.”, I do have some fears, but I don’t “hate” anyone – and frankly gay rights activists are starting to sound zombified with all these “hate” accusations. My opposition to SSM has nothing to do with religion, as I’ve made clear several times on this site. As for fear, it is never pleasant – either for the one who has it or the one who feels he is the object of it. But the fact that fear is unpleasant doesn’t mean its always unwarranted.

    I’m aware that there are many gay families in the U.S. I commend these parents for the work they do in rearing children. Clearly it IS better for those families if SSM is legal. But social policy has to take into account the whole society, not just a small percentage. Also, social policy has to made with the future in mind – what works for a period of time may prove to be a disaster long-term. The SSM question is not as simple as “equal means equal.”

  14. Opinionated says

    Well actually it should be that simple but it is not so only because of religious views and beliefs. Since those views should have no merit in deciding a policy of equality for all beliefs then it is, quite simply, a matter of equal vs. equal.

    As for the “hate” accusations, well us zombies are tired of the other side having the gall to pretend that they aren’t spreading hate just opposite opinions (hateful ones mind you) so I think hate accusations general fit.

    P.S. As a part of this new found zombie species I would never eat a Christian brain, not much nutritional value there…

  15. willbnyc says

    Look, if you’re a Christian, live as one. You my roll your eyes, and I’m not being simplistic or arbitrary, but I really want to know: when was the last time you wore mixed fibers or ate shrimp? You do realize the Bible advocates stoning adulterers, right?
    I really don’t understand how you can pick and choose your morality and decide which Biblical laws apply now and which ones apply for which generations. For a nonbeliever like me, it makes your religion look like a game of whack-a-mole.
    You’re a bigot if you think that any US citizen gets rights and privileges that another is denied. That’s the definition of bigotry.
    I want a civil marriage so I can visit my partner in the hospital should I have to, and I want to leave him my business should anything happen to me. I can’t legally do that now, because of people like you.

  16. Zlick says

    Well, you’re in luck, Mary. Because in this one instance, social consensus IS being reached in America and, in this one instance, I agree that much more consensus must be reached before full legal gay equality is enacted than was needed for full legal racial equality.

    So don’t worry, we got those bases covered. Support is strong, growing and growing, and overwhelming support is inevitable – since young people come into the majority and old people die.

    And we’re not getting ahead of ourselves with some crazy social experiment either. We can look to, oh, let’s say Loving vs. Virginia and note that western civilization did not come to an end when racial marriage equality came to America – with far less social support than currently exists for gay marriage equality.

    And how instructive is the history of gay marriage history itself, in the world and the U.S.? Been going on for a few decades now, more and more and more – and not a single, solitary harm has come – only the most beautiful goodness and justice.

    Thanks for playing, though.

  17. says

    This guy is delusional.

    If our rights are to be subject to a majority approval…..what other minority has had to get the approval of the majority ?
    Have Black rights had to have approval ?
    Or Jewish rights ?
    Since when did the right to equality ned approval ?
    where’s the precedent ?

  18. a confused conservative says

    Mary says: “But social policy has to take into account the whole society, not just a small percentage. Also, social policy has to made with the future in mind….”

    And since gays are a minority they should give way to the greater good of those who despise them, right?

    Also, looking to the future, who will over-populate the earth if gays are allowed to enter into non-productive marriages?

    This matter is more confusing the deeper one looks into it. Rights are not a simple matter at all. There are many considerations for the greater good of society. One should re-read Mein Kampf in a spare moment to get the full impact of the analogy. Sometimes a despised minority should be eliminated simply to make the majority feel better.

  19. John says

    Mary said: ‘I understand the feelings of pro-SSM supporters who claim “People shouldn’t be allowed to vote on civil rights.” But that is in fact just what we’re trying to determine – whether or not same-sex marriage IS a civil right. Something isn’t a civil right just because some group, large or small, decides to label it so. The society has to come to some agreement to grant it that status.’

    Well, what if civil rights for blacks had been up for a referendum in Mississippi in the 1960’s? There are countless other examples like that. Get real, and play fair, Mary.

  20. Dearcomrade says

    Christie is a Papist Swine. Kowtowing to his own religious beliefs over the civil rights of the people of his state.