Same Sex Marriage in New Jersey – Should We Be Able to Vote on it? [POLL]
I’ve often felt that the majority should not be voting to grant rights to the minority.
For instance, we would probably never have seen the landmark civil rights legislation of the 60s passed had it been up to the majority at the time.
That’s always been and always should be the task of legislatures.
However, and this is a big “however”; if same sex marriage is to be made legal in this state, it would have to override the veto of Governor Christie who, as I’m sure you know by now, believes that marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman.
That’s not going to happen anytime soon; but the Governor has said he wouldn’t be opposed to placing the issue before the voters as a ballot item.
Again, it shouldn’t be up to you or me to vote as to whether or not gay couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples. It’s the legislature’s job.
But in the interests of expediency, a ballot initiative would be the best route to pursue.
Proponents of marriage equality in New Jersey are mired in their own internal arguments over how to counter Gov. Chris Christie’s veto last year of a bill allowing same-sex nuptials.
Christie said he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, but said voters should decide if marriage laws should be expanded — an option that has divided advocates.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the state’s highest-ranking Democratic lawmaker, said Monday he’s planning to schedule a future vote to override Christie’s veto, a strategy supported by several gay advocacy groups.
But Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, the state’s first openly gay lawmaker, said the referendum may be a better route, especially after gay-marriage approval by voters in Washington, Maryland and Maine last year.
“An override vote, a referendum, a favorable court ruling — let’s have everything on the table at our disposal,” said Gusciora, D-Mercer.
However, the referendum is not supported by the state’s largest gay rights group, Garden State Equality, which says a referendum would create division and controversy in communities.
Putting the “rights of the minority in the hands of the majority” is unfair, said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality.
The evolving politics of gay marriage are not unique to New Jersey, but Gusciora’s turnabout is noteworthy, said John Tomicki, president of the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage.
Tomicki said the divide shows Democrats “know they don’t have the votes in the Legislature to override the governor.”
Tomicki said his group is opposed to same-sex marriage “because thousands of years of history and sociology and the last 40 years of research shows that the most stable situation for the raising of children is their biological parents of one man and one woman.”
Same-sex marriage proponents say the civil union experiment has failed in New Jersey and couples are constantly being denied equal rights.
Garden State Equality filed a case in the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2011, representing five civil-union couples who say they have been slighted equal rights.
Neptune Township Committeeman Randy Bishop, who said he was the first elected official in New Jersey to have a civil union, agreed, saying he wants the bill to go through the Legislature, and not by a referendum.
“I think that it is the legislators’ prerogative to make the law of the land,” Bishop said. “Everyone deserves equal protection of the law.”
Asbury Park Deputy Mayor John Loffredo, who is gay, said he wants to see state lawmakers override Christie’s veto. A public vote would be unnecessary, he said.
Bishop is correct. That’s the reason why we elect legislators in the first place.
However, knowing that there aren’t enough votes in the Legislature to overturn the Governor’s veto makes it practical to put the vote on the ballot.
And besides, if the polls are to be believed and a majority of us are supposedly in favor of same sex marriage, wouldn’t it be a “layup” to put it up for a vote?
I’d think so.