It May Be A While For Marriage Equality Vote In New Jersey

Chrischristie2016New Jersey’s Legislature in February passed a marriage equality bill in February, a bill Gov. Chris Christie shamelessly vetoed for political gain. So with marriage equality now passed by three states’ electorates, you would think the Garden State lawmakers would start thinking about going that route and putting marriage to a popular vote. Turns out, not so much.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat who sponsored the vetoed bill, told The New Jersey Journal, “I still don’t believe we should put civil rights onto a referendum.” That leaves either the Supreme Court or another legislative battle.

…It looks as if the battle for gay marriage in New Jersey will continue on the same two fronts: in court, with a case pending in the state Supreme Court; and in the Legislature, where Democrats have another year to cobble together the two-thirds majority needed to overturn Christie’s veto.

And while Democrats and gay rights advocates say their stand against a referendum is based on principle, a victory wouldn’t be as easy next year, with lower turnout and Christie expected to be at the top of the ticket.

Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union), a gay marriage sponsor, left the option of putting the issue on the ballot as a “last resort” — only if Democrats can’t override it, their court case fails and they are unable to defeat Christie next year.

Garden State Equality Chairman Steven Goldstein told the paper that Christie, whom he described as “the best political strategist I’ve ever met in my life,” should start to smell the political change in the air and shift his position.

“I hope the election of 2012 has taught him that his two goals — keeping New Jersey happy and keeping his presidential prospects on fire — are no longer mutually exclusive,” he said. “America, just like New Jersey, has turned the corner not only on marriage equality, but on a host of other social issues.”


  1. K in VA says

    New Jersey should definitely take the legislative route, and pass a bill as soon as possible. Then Christie is on the spot: Does he go against what Tuesday unquestionably proved to be the wrong historical direction? Or does he become a “new” Republican who refuses to suck up to the christianist right-wing base of the GOP?

  2. Byron St. James says

    Christie is no dummy. He masterfully manipulated the Sandy coverage to position himself in the center. He knows that a staunch anti-gay position is not helpful in a national race. Expect some sort of face-saving manipulations to go on behind the scenes in the years ahead. I predict New Jersey will eventually go the way of its neighbor, New York.

  3. Rick says

    I certainly hope they do NOT put this up to a popular vote, even as a last resort. While our wins on Tuesday are positively thrilling, the principle remains: civil rights should never be subjected to the whims of the majority.

    A much better route would be to work tirelessly and unrelentingly to cobble together a legislative supermajority to override the veto. If that fails, and the judicial route is also unsuccessful, then we will have to simply wait Christie out. But no referendum, never.

  4. Charlie says

    If Christie wants to be President he cannot support marriage equality. While it may be true soon that a majority of the public support gay rights, a majority of voters in Republican primaries do not. He would never get a chance to run, at least not as a Republican and it will be decades before this changes.

    Of course, Christie is already to pragmatic to satisfy the tea party. And acknowledging that Obama did a satisfactory job handling Hurricane Sandy may have already decided his fate, so perhaps he knows he doesn’t have anything to lose now and will sign the bill.

  5. Henry Juhala says

    I agree. The tide has turned. The time for excuses is over. The NJ court has already made it clear that NJ was found wanting in how it has denied rights to gays and lesbian who want to marry. It is clear that Civil Unions does not live up to the mandate of the court. The lawmakers and Christie are negligent in their duty if they continue on the path they are on to continue to deny gays and lesbians full access to marriage rights and benefits that they grant by law to their heterosexual counterparts. That is clearly unconstitutional according to the Supreme Courts interpretation of the 14th Amendment.

  6. Gregoire says

    I think he’ll change his mind on this issue, if only because its practical.

    He will clearly be rejected by the party establishment, and he will have to form his own path to the presidency. One very simple way to do that is to take on gay support where the Rep establishment does not.

  7. Ken says

    It drives me crazy that people are willing to pass up a chance at equality because they’d rather stand on a principle of not putting the issue up for a vote. If the people in Maine felt that way we would not have marriage equality there today. We need to use every path available to us to achieve equality and that includes the popular vote!

  8. KT says

    Sometimes the ends do justify the means. Its not ideal to vote for marriage rights but it that is the best way to get them, then put them up for a vote. Any means neccessary. Christie is not going to change his mind (Seriously, Steven Goldstein needs to get over his Christie crush). He is too proud to admit he is wrong. The GOP in NJ will not do anything without Christie’s permission so the legislative approach is DOA. If they put it on the ballot, it would pass.

  9. KT says

    Sometimes the ends do justify the means. Its not ideal to vote for marriage rights but it that is the best way to get them, then put them up for a vote. Any means neccessary. Christie is not going to change his mind (Seriously, Steven Goldstein needs to get over his Christie crush). He is too proud to admit he is wrong. The GOP in NJ will not do anything without Christie’s permission so the legislative approach is DOA. If they put it on the ballot, it would pass.

  10. says

    I’m generally against letting the public vote on civil rights, especially when it comes to minorities. In the past, it’s worked against us every single time. I was completely shocked when marriage equality passed in this election. Wow! What a sign of positive changes in America!

    The fact that NJ still doesn’t have marriage equality is stunning, especially when you consider pretty much every state surrounding it now does.

    If that ass Christie is going to continue to block it, maybe leaving it up to the voters wouldn’t be so bad.

  11. Bingo says

    As long as he imagines a way to be the Republican nominee for president, he won’t be changing his tune on this issue.

    Reports that “the tide as turned” are premature. The Republicans swim in a different ocean.

  12. Patric says

    Though his prospects of being on the Republican’s national ticket in 2016 have taken a serious blow in the past couple of weeks, I would be astounded to see Christie do the right (as in left) thing and sign this bill. Though Christie is riding high among Jersey voters at the moment and will not be an easy target, what we all should be doing is working to see Cory Booker or another progressive elected over Christie next November.

    We’d have marriage equality in Jersey now if gay people and progressives had gotten out in sufficient numbers in 2010 and re-elected Governor Corzine (I even know a gay Jersey resident who voted for Christie and it goes without saying that those sorts of individuals are traitors to our community). If there is one lesson from the elections of 2008, 2010 and 2012, it’s a reminder that the electorate in off-year elections differs from the electorate in presidential election years. Republicans reliably vote in every election but too many members of our coalition only come out in response to the efforts of a ground game as sophisticated as that of the President’s campaign. My hope is that turnout would be higher among progressives, African-American voters and young people if Mayor Booker is the Dem nominee to take on Christie next year. Aside from a court victory, he is our most realistic hope to achieve equality in Jersey in the near future.

  13. Bruno says

    There are a few ways this could happen there…I suppose gaining veto-proof majorities in the legislature next year is unlikely? I’d like to think the high court there, which we’ve seen may have 3 justices for sure that’d vote on our side, might step in. It’d be hard for me to see Christie getting booted out of office next year after the Sandy response.

  14. Patric says

    Bruno, I understand your skepticism about our prospects of defeating Christie next year at this moment when he is riding high but don’t forget that (i) Daddy Bush was soaring in the polls in 1991 after Desert Storm and got less than 40% of the national popular vote a year-and-a-half later in the 1992 election, and (ii) President Obama was riding high after the killing of Osama bin Laden but his poll numbers were significantly lower a mere few months later after Republican obstructionism led to the lowering of the nation’s credit rating.

  15. Icebloo says

    Christie is a Republican. A big Republican. A BIG FAT Republican – literally ! He will do NOTHING to help us. NEVER NEVER NEVER trust a Republican – they will always use you and then stab you in the back.

    If Christie allows gay marriage in New Jersey his own party will attack him for it when he runs in the next Republican primary. There is no way he will put anyone else’s interests above his own – he’s a REPUGNANT REPUBLICAN !

  16. says

    Hello, he’s not medically fit to make it to the next primary. High blood pressure. High blood sugar. High cholesterol. Type 2 diabetes. Atherosclerosis. Inability to stand up to Republican/Tea Party bullies. Wait him out, it won’t take that long.

  17. andrew says

    @Manny: do you have an MD or just a BS? My grandmother was built just like Christie and lived to be 90 years old. My trim in shape grand father died at 51. Just sayin!

  18. andrew says

    I gained a new respect for Chris Christie watching him deal with the hurricane aftermath in N.J. He seems like the kind of conservative republican a liberal could sit down with and negotiate compromises and concessions on all sides for the common good.

  19. says

    The leadership of GSE is calling Christie “a masterful political strategist”? YEEESSSHHHH!!!

    Why don’t they just admitting that he outsmarted them completely.

    Steven Goldstein, I’m buying you a chess board for christmas !!

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