Gay Marriage Fight Coming Soon to New Jersey

By
Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/2011 Getty Images

New Jersey Democrats plan to introduce a new gay marriage bill at the upcoming legislative session, and say they have the votes to pass it in both houses, unlike in 2010, when the State Senate voted down the measure. "Marriage equality represents the third leg of the stool of civil rights and equality in this country," said Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver at a news conference yesterday. Even if the bill passes, there's another hurdle ahead, as Governor Chris Christie has said in the past that he will veto a law supporting same-sex marriage.

"I am not a fan of same-sex marriage," said Christie last year. "That's my view and that'll be the view of our state, because I wouldn't sign a bill like the one that was in New York." Civil unions have been allowed in New Jersey since 2003.

An editorial in the New Jersey Star-Ledger today said the bill "is not likely to succeed while Christie remains in office," but proposed bypassing Christie by amending the state constitution, a "risky" proposition but one "worth a try as a last resort."

But Democrats are poised to fight for marriage, The Wall Street Journal reports, "hoping to distinguish themselves ideologically from a GOP governor they have cut numerous deals with." The Journal foresees potential influence from New York, which passed a marriage-equality bill last year:

An unanswered question is whether Republican-leaning hedge-fund managers who gave more than $1 million to a pro-gay marriage lobbying effort in New York would take up the cause in New Jersey. Their money helped turn the tide in New York, giving political coverage to Republicans who control the state Senate. A number of those financiers are strong allies of Mr. Christie, including Paul Singer and Daniel S. Loeb, both of whom urged him to run for president last year. They didn't return calls for comment.

The president of Garden State Equality also sees New York's influence through Governor Andrew Cuomo. "You might call it the Andrew Cuomotization of legislators in New Jersey," he told the Star-Ledger. "Andrew Cuomo has set the stage for the legislature in New Jersey and in other states, by championing the cause of marriage equality not begrudgingly but with gusto. And that's happening in New Jersey now." 

An opponent from the New Jersey Family Policy Council said, "I don't think this is a slam dunk. There's going to be quite a battle." We're looking forward to it.