New Jersey state Democratic assemblyman Reed Gusciora told reporters this week, “They’re talking about it in New York, why aren’t we talking about it in New Jersey?” in reference to his having introduced a marriage equality bill Monday. But the forecast for the effort is, unfortunately, rather grim.
In New Jersey, it’s the first time a lawmaker has put forward a bill on gay marriage since it was defeated in the state Senate in January 2010 — just before Gov. Chris Christie took office.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), who co-sponsored the Senate bill with Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) last year, said she will reintroduce it only if she can secure a veto-proof majority.
“If we can garner enough votes and we know they will stand up to the socially ultraconservative governor sitting in the Statehouse … then I’m willing to start all over again,” she said.
The difference between New York and New Jersey is, of course, the aforementioned “ultra-conservative” governor Chris Christie who has categorically opposed marriage equality in the past and this week reiterated his stance in a television interview.
“My religion says it’s a sin. But for me, I have always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual,” Christie told Piers Morgan on Tuesday night. “And so I think if someone is born that way it’s very difficult to say then that that’s a sin. I understand that my church says that. But for me personally, I don’t look upon someone who’s homosexual as a sinner.”
“I believe marriage is an institution between one man and one woman,” he said, repeating the mantra of equality opponents. “I think it’s special and unique in society, and I think we can have civil unions that can help to give the same type of legal rights to same-sex couples that marriage gives them. But I just think marriage has as a special connotation. And I couldn’t see myself changing my mind on that. But I am in favor of making sure that homosexual couples have the same type of legal rights that heterosexual couples have.”
Chris Christie there tying himself up in knots as to whether being gay is a sin and what that means for his belief in “special” marriage, a stance he seems to justify only through an appeal to heterosexual privilege, but I digress.
It is unlikely that under its current makeup the New Jersey Legislature would pass a gay marriage bill and even more unlikely that lawmakers could muster a veto proof majority in defense of marriage equality, but it is interesting to note the kind of knock-on effect elicited by the marriage equality fight in New York.
If successful, New York would be the sixth and largest state to legalize same-sex marriage through the legislative process. The bill is, at the time of writing, stalled in the Senate where the Republican leadership continues to dither on whether to bring the bill to the floor. It is widely believed that, with 31 votes in favor and more Republican votes in the offing, the bill would pass should the vote proceed.
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