Democrats Blast Christie For His Stance On Marriage Equality

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg today said the more the governor talks about providing lawmakers a choice in how to let marriage equality move forward, it becomes more and more clear that he is not allowing Republican members of the Legislature who support marriage equality to have any choice in the matter.

“It’s no secret that the governor’s front office team gives no quarter to independent thinking among Republican legislators, and it’s become obvious marriage equality will be treated no differently,” said Weinberg (D-Bergen), a prime sponsor of the marriage equality measure (S-1). “What should be a vote of conscience is quickly becoming a vote of party purity and a show of support for the governor. It would be infuriating if it weren’t just so disappointing that something as basic as justice will be turned into a political tool for the governor’s national ambition.”

Weinberg singled out the governor’s now twice-repeated line that, “I will veto it, and I will work hard to make sure my veto is sustained in the Legislature,” as a signal that he will quash any attempt by individual Republican legislators to vote by the dictates of their own conscience. The governor made the comment at Tuesday’s Bridgewater “town hall,” and again yesterday at a State House press conference.

Weinberg urged the governor to follow the example of former Gov. Thomas Kean Sr, who vetoed legislation mandating a moment of silence in schools in 1983, and after a successful Assembly override said, “On this issue, it is a matter of constitutional law and conscience, and people are obviously going to do their duty in that light. I think I did my duty as governor as I saw it. I believe the legislators have done theirs.”

“The governor may see it his constitutional duty to veto marriage equality, but he should leave it to the members of his party to reach their own conclusion, based on their own conscience, as to whether that veto is right,” said Weinberg. “The governor should publicly commit that he will let the Republican members who support marriage equality follow the dictates of their conscience, not the dictates of his front office. At times like these we could use a little more of Tom Kean Sr.’s introspection and a little less of King Louis XIV’s ‘l’etat c’est moi.’”

Weinberg’s comments come a day after prominent Assembly Democrats criticized Christie for making the comment, “People would have been happy to have referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.”

“It’s impossible to ever conceive that a referendum on civil rights in the South would have been successful and brought justice to minorities,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex). “Governor – people were fighting and dying in the streets of the South for a reason. They were fighting and dying in the streets of the South because the majority refused to grant minorities equal rights by any method. It look legislative action to bring justice to all Americans, just as legislative action is the right way to bring marriage equality to all New Jerseyans.”

“It took a lot of bravery by a lot of people, including elected officials, to stand up for what was right and protect equal rights in this nation,” said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer). “Governor, it’s time for you to follow their brave example when it comes to marriage equality.”

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