Gay Marriage Bill Passes Through NJ Senate [AUDIO/POLL]
It comes as no surprise that the State Senate approved a bill to legalize gay marriage yesterday, but it was shocking to many that debate on the measure only lasted about an hour.
The Assembly is expected to pass the legislation Thursday and Governor Chris Christie says he'll veto it.
Senators Jennifer Beck and Diane Allen were the only two republicans to join 22 Democrats in passing the bill this afternoon. Senators Ron Rice and Jeff Van Drew were the two Democrats to vote, 'no.'
Senate Democratic Leader Loretta Weinberg co-sponsors the measure. Just prior to the votes she asked every legislator, "I Implore you to join with us on the right side of history and support this bill today."
GOP State Senator Gerry cardinal did not support the bill. He says, "Gender and gender difference are self-evident realities. Throughout human history that difference has had an important role to play in the development of civilized society……Marriage has always been the union of humans of different genders."
"We have an opportunity to be again on the right side of history and take our rightful place in being a leader among the fifty states," says co-sponsor, State Senator ray Lesniak. "We can join New York, Vermont, Washington, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa by approving Marriage Equality. The sanctity of marriage has not been endangered by Marriage Equality in those seven states. In fact, it's been enhanced by allowing more loving couples to get married."
Weinberg says, "If you don't believe in gay marriage, don't enter into a gay marriage. It's really as simple as that………… Who are we to say that basic equal rights should be denied to any class of citizen, simply because we're uncomfortable with the nature of their relationship? The State should not be in the business of legally sanctioning homophobia by conferring separate but equal status to the legal recognition of a union between two people and that's what the perpetuation of the civil union law amounts to - government-sanctioned, legally justified homophobia."
Cardinale says, "It is amazing that this extremely controversial bill is the top priority of our legislative leadership, while our taxes are the highest in the country and unemployment ravages."
Christie wants the voters to decide the issue with a November ballot question. Weinberg says, "We were elected by the people to represent their interests and lead not to abdicate leadership and cut and run when the job gets hard."
When To Override The Veto
The democrat-controlled legislature has until January 2014 to override the Governor's veto, but they only get one shot. Lesniak says when the votes are there they will try. Weinberg is preaching patience.
Christie wants the voters to decide the issue in a November ballot question, but Democrats call same-sex marriage a civil rights issue and they feel it's the legislature's job to hash out such matters.
With the Governor promising a veto and the Democrats refusing to put the issue on the ballot, gay couples who truly want to marry will find themselves no better or worse off than they are right now when all is said and done. Many are asking: So, what's the point?
Sweeney says, "Well, we will have made progress because we've passed it and put it on the Governor's desk which we couldn't do before and I'm not going to rule out a movement to try and get an override and that that is possible because anything is possible……..We've got to do first things first. We have time. Once he vetoes it, an override can come any time in the two-year session so there's plenty of time to work on people."
During a question and answer session with reporters after at a recent town hall meeting in Bridgewater, the Governor said he still opposes same sex marriage -and if a gay marriage bill reaches his desk he'll veto it - but instead of that scenario playing out, he suggests, "Let's let the people of New Jersey decide what's right for the state - let's put the question of same sex marriage on the ballot - this fall - in the hands of the people...I support giving New Jerseyans the ability to give voice to their support or their opposition to this issue.'
The Governor says, "Let's stop treating this like a political football and let's let the people of New Jersey decide - that way those who are in favor and those who are opposed will have the opportunity to make their case…. .I would certainly be willing to be governed by the decision of the people of the state...this issue is too big and too consequential not to trust the people who will be governed ultimately by any change in law or maintenance of the current law."
Christie points out because there is a Presidential election this year, "We have the most people voting this fall - it'll be the most people having an opportunity to weigh in on this important issue - let's let people decide...advocates for and against same sex marriage can have the opportunity to make their case to the broadest sector of our population - and let people decide- this is too big a change, in my view, to be decided down the halls of Trenton."
"The Senate will vote on and pass marriage equality," says Sweeney. "There will be no multi-million dollar media campaigns. There will be no using the issue to drum up political bases. There will be no punting the matter so it doesn't interfere with political ambitions. You either support marriage equality or you don't. There is no third option."