Despite the New Jersey legislature’s previously stated intention to pass a bill legalizing gay marriage, the prospects for passage have dimmed in the wake of the gubernatorial election, as some Democrats in the Democrat-controlled body have begun to “waver.” Their reasons are not altogether convincing, but that’s not surprising when you’re talking about denying rights to a specific group of people.
Excuse A: The voters will resent that the legislature is spending time on social issues when the economy is still so terrible. Of course, as Loretta Weinberg, a state senator and Jon Corzine’s running mate, tells the Times, “It’s not like we’re going to miss out on a chance to fix the economy during the lame-duck session because we’re spending a couple of hours debating this. It is a matter of civil rights.” Well put!
Excuse B (which is actually a bunch of excuses rolled into one):
Other Democrats worried that if they passed a same-sex-marriage bill while Mr. Corzine was on his way out of office, they might anger voters, energize Mr. Christie’s conservative base and alienate socially traditional Democrats.
First of all, gay marriage was barely mentioned during the gubernatorial campaign — the focus was more on the economy, taxes, and Chris Christie’s fatness — so it’s not like passing gay marriage now, while Corzine is still in office, is undermining the stated will of the voters. In fact, a majority of New Jerseyans support gay marriage, according to the most recent poll.
Secondly, why are you so worried about energizing the conservative base? You just had an election, like, three weeks ago. Conservatives won’t like it, but what are they going to do, write you a sternly worded letter? Finally, as for alienating socially conservative Democrats, the most recent poll on the subject showed that Democratic New Jerseyans support gay marriage by 59 to 28 percent. Which group would you rather disappoint — the 59 percent or the 28 percent?
Look, we don’t mean to pick on New Jersey Democrats, because obviously some New York Democrats have used many of the same rationales to explain their skittishness on enacting marriage equality. It’s just unfortunate that someone is actually emulating them.