In early 2012, lawmakers in New Jersey successfully passed marriage equality bill, but Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed it, claiming same-sex marriage was not an issue of “gay rights.” The legislature has until January 2014 to attempt to override that veto, and Democratic leaders in both chambers announced this week that they will attempt to do just that.
The bill originally passed the Senate with a 24–16 vote, so only three more votes are needed to reach a two-thirds majority for the override. In the Assembly, however, the bill only passed 42–33, so 12 more votes are needed. Lawmakers will likely wait until after the June elections to hold the vote so that Republicans are more willing to consider a controversial vote. LGBT activists have been lobbying for more support for an override since the bill’s passage last year, primarily because they are opposed to a referendum.
Openly gay Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D) actually wants to allow for a vote, because he believes “the worst thing that can happen is the status quo.” However, Senate President Steve Sweeney also opposes a referendum, and for good reasons. As Garden State Equality pointed out last year, ballot initiatives are “a contest of which side can raise more millions” that offers “a community’s civil rights up for sale to the highest bidder.” Not only is a referendum incredible expensive, but it can have harsh consequences for the mental health of the entire LGBT community.
Arguably, a majority of New Jersey voters do support marriage equality, with polls showing as many as 53 percent, if not 57 percent, support. That, however, should be motivation for lawmakers to simply do their job and represent the interests of their constituents. Marriage equality is what’s best for New Jersey’s economy and the well-being of its citizens, in addition to just being the right thing to do.