Today is the first day of deliberations of the gay marriage bill by the Senate Judicial Committee in New Jersey. If the bill clears the committee, it goes to the State Senate for a vote. If it is approved there, it would need to be approved by the Assembly so that Governor Jon Corzine can sign it before he leaves office. His successor, Republican Chris Christie, is an opponent of gay marriage, so time is short.
Demonstrators flocked to Trenton to support or protest the bill.
In an op-ed piece last week in the New Jersey Star Ledger, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora of the 15th legislative district, spelled out in definitive terms all of the reasons it makes complete sense to legalize gay marriage. Of course, something making complete sense never appeals to the GOP, not even in "blue" New Jersey.
Assemblyman Gusciora stated:
"At its core, the ability to get married is a civil act governed by state law. Everyone must first meet the qualifications set forth by state law to receive a marriage license. Because marriage is a right conferred by the government, it should be done on an equitable basis, including the recognition of same-gender unions.
Civil marriages also have a longstanding tradition in this country. The first wedding in the Plymouth Colony was a civil marriage performed by Governor Bradford, not a religious ceremony."
He points out that legalizing gay marriage certainly does no harm to heterosexual marriages. As he put it, "I have a suggestion for those wanting to preserve their wedding vows: Stay married!"
I could quote the whole column because there are so many well-reasoned arguments in favor of same-sex marriage in it but you can go read the rest yourselves.
He concludes with the following:
"As long as we are a nation of laws dedicated to the principle of separation of church and state, the Legislature is the proper place to define our marriage laws on equitable terms. Now is the time for New Jersey to update the civil marriage laws so they are truly equal and reflect our ever changing society."
The Star Ledger editorial board supports gay marriage. In this editorial, they point out the generational divide on this issue. Two prominent politicians in New Jersey, U.S. Senator Menendez and State Senator Ronald Rice, both oppose gay marriage, while their sons support it. The editorial goes on to say:
"A national CNN poll this year showed that 58 percent of those under 30 back gay marriage, while only 24 percent of those over 65 do. This generational divide is the size of the Grand Canyon.
It means that history is on the side of marriage equality. Younger people are simply not as rattled by homosexuality, perhaps because they have lived among more openly gay people. They don’t consider it a personality defect, or a moral wrong. And they don’t want [to] treat their gay friends and relatives as something less.
So gay marriage will happen. The only question is when."
Let's hope it happens in New Jersey this month.