Gay Marriage Passes New Jersey Assembly, Probably Will Not Become Real

In a simultaneously inspiring and frustrating turn of events, the New Jersey State Assembly passed a bill legalizing gay marriage today — but it’s virtually certain that it won’t actually become law, because New Jersey governor Chris Christie has promised to veto it.

Christie’s intentions with regards to this bill have always been fairly clear. While New Jersey’s previous governor, a Democrat, had promised to support a similar bill in 2009, it didn’t make it through the Assembly. Now, in 2012, a bill that would accomplish the same thing passed the Assembly in a 42-33 vote, but there doesn’t seem to be any chance it will make it past the governor. A two-thirds majority would be required to block the veto, which neither chamber of the Assembly has. It would appear that 2012 is not the year that New Jersey will see marriage equality.

A staunch Republican and supporter of Mitt Romney, Christie is generally understood to have a bright future with the Republican party, and is a possible Presidential hopeful in years to come. Aligning himself on the right side of the culture war around gay marriage could be the key to some future campaign, and he’s not going to take a risk that may come back to haunt him down the road. What he wants to do, if given the option, is put the issue up to a vote, and allow a popular vote of New Jersey citizens to decide. This is problematic, of course, because putting the civil rights of a minority group up for a majority vote is inherently unjust — and also confusing, because New Jersey voters are generally supportive of same-sex marriage. More than anything, it would seem that  Christie doesn’t want the eventual fate of same-sex marriage in New Jersey tied to his name or political career — he’d like his hands clean of it altogether.

So if Christie’s been vowing to veto this bill since it was introduced — and he has — what’s the point of making an effort at all? No point at all, at least according to Christie:

On Tuesday, Christie called the push by Democrats to pass the legislation in the face of his veto threat a pointless form of “political theater” that is a distraction from the state’s more pressing problems. Once he vetoes the bill, “we can move on to the things in the state that people in New Jersey say are most important,” said Christie, giving lower property taxes and job creation as examples.

 But New Jersey legislators, especially Democrats, feel differently — they’re making marriage equality a priority for this year. Maybe pushing through a bill that you know will be vetoed is “political theater,” but whether or not it’s pointless is a different matter. They’re still sending a strong message about the importance of equality and the responsibility they feel in terms of working towards it for their constituents. They’re also making a statement about civil rights by opposing a voter referendum; rights, by definition, are things that we have inherently, and that can’t be taken away by a vote.

If Christie does veto the bill, legislators have until January 2014 to get enough votes together for an override — 27 votes in the Senate and 54 votes in the Assembly. Hopefully by 2014, the landscape for marriage equality in New Jersey will look a little different — because he’s right, it is about what the people of New Jersey say is most important, and not what Chris Christie thinks.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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18 Comments

  1. i live in nj and can’t eloquently express my full feelings on this, yet, other than to say how sad it makes me. It’s so upsetting that we finally got it though the legislature, only to have it die at the hands of a selfish, arrogant bully. Also upsetting because this is another tarnish on a great state with a terrible reputation. :-/

  2. I sat in front of my computer two years ago crying as I watched my (NJ) legislature vote down my rights. I am so proud that opinions were changed but I don’t think I could handle having marriage put to a popular vote in my home state. Knowing that the people next door might literally get to decide something about my future, instead of me, is a really sobering idea.

    Fuck Chris Christie. He is on the wrong side of history, yet again.

  3. The other frustrating thing about Christie’s argument is that (aside from the much larger issue of equality and civil rights) analysts are saying that making gay marriage legal in NJ would contribute to job and economic growth- the things Christie is saying the NJ Assembly should focus on instead. It could mean as much as $250 million in revenue and 800 new jobs for NJ.

  4. I live in NJ. Lived here all my life. I was excited it got so far, but then when I found out Christie’s just going to veto it anyway, my excitement was short lived.

    Get that douchebag out of office, seriously. I’ve had enough of his ridiculous. First he takes away a lot of the stuff from the Turnpike Authority which my Dad works for, and now this. Fuck you Christie.

  5. I can’t help thinking that signing gay marriage into law would actually be the smart thing for Gov. Christie to do. His whole brand is based around being a tough no nonsense kind of guy that wants to get things done. Whether you believe that or not, it is how he sells himself to most of the electorate.

    The public will give a politician like that a lot of latitude to rough up their opponents, but only if said politician occasionally gores a few of their party’s sacred cows. Gay marriage is a perfect sacred cow for a Republican like Christie. Sure the social conservatives would hate it now, but he won’t need their support for any kind of presidential run until 2016 (or even 2020). Gay marriage keeps getting more and more popular all the time. By 2016 it wouldn’t surprise me if being pro-gay marriage was a requirement for anybody running to hold national office in either party.

    If Christie did this now he would get the rep that comes from facing down your own party’s orthodoxy to do the right thing. In a few years his actions would be considered the right thing even by the orthodoxy so he shouldn’t suffer any long term damage. He just needs to have the guts to do it right now.

    • Unfortunately I think you overestimate both the Tea Party supporters (who have become a vocal majority, if not an actual one, in the Republican/conservative camp) and how fast public opinion is changing. Supporting gay marriage would be a huge gamble for Christie considering the staunch vehemence the Republican party is showing towards gay marriage/ANY kind of progressive or liberal social stances right now. He’s a name that’s being bandied about a lot right now for a Republican run in 2016- taking a true stance on this issue either way would be a huge risk to that. And if he DID support it now, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was ostracized from his party given the current political climate.

      • The other thing is that I think Christie may be trying to the vice presidential nomination this time around. It seems like none of the current candidates can actually beat Obama (right now anyway), but having that experience under his belt would be a boost in 2016. Unfortunately, no candidate right now is going to choose a VP who signed a gay marriage law. I am more optimistic than you about broad support for our civil rights, but I’m sort of hoping that by the next presidential election, the Supreme Court will have already decided in our favor and the whole thing will be moot.

  6. So, all of the debate, hard work, votes, etc. have already gone down…yet we’re vetoing the bill because it’s a “distraction”? So um, if you hadn’t vetoed it, then um, something might -actually get done-?!?! Instead of wasting time on this again when you’re gone?

    Also, I thought we lived in a democracy? Since when does one white dude get to override the legislature on a civil rights issue? Who the /fuck/ does he think he is? This is politically self-servinig to the max. It is disgusting that this would help his campaign in any way and shows how truly he values American ideals like “democracy” and “liberty” and “justice.”

    I have Republican parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. and I just wanna let this douche know that if he /ever/ runs for president, none of my Republican extended family will be voting for him – just because they are Republican does not mean they don’t believe in democracy. They also have a strong averse reaction to politicians who seem like “bad people” – people who cheat, who lie, who act in a bogus, self-serving manner. You could argue this is a helluva lot of politicians, but let it be known that some of them keep their douchery under wraps…now that it’s out in the air, I’ll be sure to spread the word…

    • The downside of having an old constitution. The US have the oldest constitution in the world, so they were still trying to figure out this democracy thing and weren’t actually that keen on it. It makes me chuckle when US politicians talk about exporting democracy, because they’re less democratic than most of their allies.

  7. It is upsetting that one person would rather deny a whole group of people their civil rights over something as selfish as his political career. If this is any indication of the type of president he would be, should he be elected, he definitely won’t have my vote. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but at the end of the day, civil rights shouldn’t be put up for a vote. They should be given automatically.

  8. Leaving the fundamental rights of minorities in the hands/at the mercy of the majority is not only dangerous, unamerican and wrong — it is completely contradictory to the core principles of our Constitution. If our system supported such an act, cases like Loving v Virginia wouldn’t have been decided as they were. Fundamental rights aren’t up for a vote, they’re “fundamental” because it’s basically retarded if you think you can take core rights away from another American. Chris Christie fails to realize the tide is turning, the constitution is alive and breathing and his significance in the political world will swiftly pass just as quickly as his veto did.

  9. I think that guy is the biggest(ha pun intended) douche lord ever. If same-sex marriage is passed through the Assembly then that should be an eye opener. Just because you want your big greasy hands clean during your term doesn’t give you a right to throw down same-sex marriage. Stop thinking of yourself and think of other peoples happiness.

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