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Sweeney: Today’s Gay Marriage Vote Not Pointless [AUDIO]

Senator Steve Sweeney
Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media NJ

This afternoon, the full State Senate will vote on a bill to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie swears he’ll veto it.

Today, the Senate President tells Townsquare Media why he doesn’t think he’s engaging in an exercise in futility.

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.”

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