Christie Calls For Referendum On Gay Marriage

Gov. Chris Christie

BRIDGEWATER – Gov. Chris Christie called on the Legislature to put a referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage on the November election ballot.

“Let’s let the people of New Jersey decide what is right for the state,” the governor said after a town hall appearance in Bridgewater today.

Democratic lawmakers have made legalizing gay marriage a priority. Earlier this month, they introduced a bill symbolically numbered S-1/A-1 to fully recognize same-sex unions as “marriage” under state law. Christie  said that he would veto the bill if it passes.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union), a prime sponsor of the pending legislation, said today, “Marriage equality isn’t like sports betting. It’s a civil right which is already guaranteed in our Constitution. It’s up to the Legislature to guarantee these rights and support marriage equality for same sex couples.”

The Democrats’ proposed measure would give legal recognition to marriages of same-sex couples, but clergy and others who object on religious grounds would be exempted from having to perform a ceremony; a provision mirrored in the marriage equality law enacted in 2011 in New York State by bipartisan vote.

“Passing marriage equality does not hurt anyone, but failing to pass it will continue to keep thousands of loving, committed couples shackled to second-class citizenship,” said Lesniak. “For those who oppose same-sex marriage on religious terms, this measure will do them and their faith no harm. But it will lift the growing majority of New Jerseyans who believe same-sex couples should have every right to be joined in marriage.”

Two years ago, during the final days of Gov. Jon Corzine’s administration, the New Jersey Legislature failed to pass a same-sex marriage bill that the governor had pledged to sign.

A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling last summer showed that 47 percent of New Jersey voters favored legalizing same-sex marriage, while 42 percent were opposed.

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