Monday, December 07, 2009

The Fight for Marriage Equality Moves to New Jersey

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.


jmsjoin said...

I was disappointed to see New York vote it down but I have hope if NJ hurrys up. Every State should decide and they should all say YES!

Mauigirl said...

I agree!

Since I posted this I read elsewhere that the Senate committee voted 7 to 6 to send it to the State Senate for a vote.

MRMacrum said...

Does New Jersey have referendum votes? If so, don't count on a law passed by the legislature to be instituted for long before some homophobic einstein finds a way to turn it into a referendum vote. That's what happened here in Maine. Anyway, I hope New Jersey has better luck than we did.

Mauigirl said...

I'm not sure if we even have those. I know I've voted on plenty of public questions but they were all for bonds, not specific issues. But it may just be we never had a reason to have one.

What is really needed is a Supreme Court ruling. But with this court, I'm afraid it might not go the way we'd want it to.

Mauigirl said...

Just read an op-ed piece in our newspaper by a conservative columnist who said we should put it up to a public referendum. So I guess NJ does have that option. I don't believe in putting civil rights to a public vote - too much can influence the public, and the granting of civil rights is always consistently ahead of public opinion; if they let them vote on the miscegenation laws, they'd still be on the books in a number of southern states, I'm sure.

S.W. Anderson said...

Well, that committee OK'd the measure and it's set for a vote by the full state senate Thursday. I join you in hoping for its success.

Fran said...

Good luck with it, Oregon went through the wringer with outside zealots throwing legal monkey wrenches in the process every step of the way.
The ink was barely dry on the new gay marriage licenses, before they had the bill repealed.
These hate groups push the buttons to make people think gay couples are getting "special rights".
I never understood the threat to hetero marriages slant.... I mean how does that even make sense?

Anyway... just saying be prepared for a bumpy & ugly fight.

Our various versions dragged on for several years. ... and in the end we wound up with a inferior watered down domestic partnership bill that is less than the right of actual legal marriage.

In the final stretch these outsiders threw in one last legal battle-- not even arguing about the content of the domestic partnership bill, but how signatures were collected for the legislative measures.

What a waste of time.

In the end I don;t want a mismash of different laws determining citizens marriages in this nation.
Your marriage is legal in Iowa but not in Illinois.
The feds have to recognize it for taxes in one state but not another?

What if your insurance company is based in a different state w different rules.

Let's just say I wish Obama were as enthusiastic about gay rights as he is about war.

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Christopher said...

The Catholic church and Maggie Gallagher's National Organization for Marriage have joined hands to push back against marriage equality in the Garden State.

I will be very surprised if we see marriage pass in New Jersey.