N.J. Gov. Christie Vetoes Gay Marriage Bill as Vowed
USAToday | 02/17/2012
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – “Gov. Chris Christie has followed through on his promise to reject a bill allowing same-sex marriage in New Jersey by quickly vetoing the measure Friday.
The veto came a day after the state Assembly passed the bill. The state Senate had passed it on Monday. Christie, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage, had vowed "very swift action" once the bill reached his desk.
"I am adhering to what I've said since this bill was first introduced - an issue of this magnitude and importance, which requires a constitutional amendment, should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide," Christie said in a statement. "I continue to encourage the Legislature to trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing our citizens to vote on a question that represents a profoundly significant societal change. This is the only path to amend our State Constitution and the best way to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in our state."
"It's unfortunate that the governor would let his own personal ideology infringe on the rights of thousands of New Jerseyans," said Reed Gusciora, one of two openly gay New Jersey lawmakers and a sponsor of the bill. "For all those who oppose marriage equality, their lives would have been completely unchanged by this bill, but for same-sex couples, their lives would have been radically transformed. Unfortunately, the governor couldn't see past his own personal ambitions to honor this truth."
Senate President Steve Sweeney was more blunt in his criticism of the governor. "He had a chance to do the right thing, and failed miserably," Sweeney said.
Proponents of the bill said gay marriage is a civil right being denied to gay couples, while opponents said the definition of marriage as a heterosexual institution should not be expanded. The legislation contains a religious opt-out clause, meaning no church clergy would be required to perform gay marriages and places of worship would not have to allow same-sex weddings at their facilities.
Steven Goldstein, chairman of the state's largest gay rights group, Garden State Equality, said Christie's national political ambitions guided his action.
"He won't veto the bill because he's anti-gay," Goldstein said in a statement issued before the veto was issued Friday. "He'll veto the bill because the 2016 South Carolina presidential primary electorate is anti-gay."
Goldstein, who said he has a cordial relationship with the governor, promised to continue fighting him vigorously on the issue. "And we will win, so help me God," he said.
Another gay marriage supporter, Washington state Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, also reached out to Christie, a practicing Catholic. Gregoire sent the governor a letter last month offering to talk about gay marriage because, in her words, "while I am a Governor, I am also a Catholic."
Gregoire signed a gay marriage measure into law in Washington on Monday. Her spokeswoman, Karina Shagren, said Christie hasn't responded to the letter.
Six states and Washington, D.C., allow gay marriage. Washington state's new gay marriage law is set to go into effect in June.
Lawmakers in New Jersey have until the end of the legislative session in January 2014 to override the veto.
They would need two-thirds of the lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate to agree. Both votes to pass it fell short of that mark. Christie has virtually guaranteed that no override would succeed because Republicans wouldn't cross him.
The Democratic-controlled Legislature has failed in every previous attempt to override Christie, most notably on a cut to women's health care and an effort to reinstate a tax surcharge on millionaires.
If same-sex couples can't win gay marriage through legislation, they have engaged in a parallel fight in the courts. Seven gay couples and several of their children have sued, claiming that the state's civil union law doesn't work as intended.
The state's own review commission has since found problems with the law, and same-sex couples have backed that up with testimony before the Legislature.
John Grant and Daniel Weiss, an Asbury Park couple who are in a civil union, are among those who testified in support of gay marriage.
When Grant was in a life-threatening automobile accident and rushed to a New York hospital in 2010 - before that state legalized gay marriage - Weiss said he couldn't authorize badly needed surgery or even go through his partner's wallet to find his health insurance card. He said their civil union was essentially worthless; Grant's neurosurgeon even asked, "What is a civil union?"
It is unusual for a forward thinking person like Gov. Christie would not take the needed step to pass same sax marriages as he has had ample proof that civil unions do not work in family emergencies and do not contain the rights of all Americans, only those who have the preferred sexual preferences need apply….
He definitely has the presidential seat in mind for the future, is republican, and a Catholic, so his hands are virtually tied in regard to any truthful, deeply thought out feelings on any issue. It is too bad that he didn’t display the moral courage to let this law go thru to give gays equal protection under the law. After all, all he needed to do is declare it unConstitutional and discriminatory to deny gays rights given automatically to others, and sign the freakin' bill.