TRENTON – Assemblyman Reed Gusciora introduced a measure placing the question of marriage equality on the 2013 November ballot. Gusciora remains “encouraged” in light of three states, Maryland, Maine and Washington, each successfully passing such measures this past November.
Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) believes that ultimately “this is a challenge for both the gay and straight communities to continue a positive dialogue in which I am confident will result in marriage equality becoming a reality for our state, sooner rather than later. I am encouraged by the three states that voted to expand the rights of marriage to committed gay and lesbian couples. I am even further encouraged by the fact that there are nine states, plus D.C., that recognize full marriage equality. And I am reminded of the importance by the countless constituents, both gay and straight, who want to see this as a reality for New Jersey.”
“While I firmly believe civil rights issues are not appropriate for the ballot, we are at a cross-road where the Governor refuses to sign legislation duly passed by both the Assembly and Senate,” said Gusciora. “Moreover, absent resolution from either the U.S. or State Supreme Court, the ballot initiative is the only alternative at this point. There are still committed persons in loving relationships, raising families and paying taxes that are being denied the right to marry.”
In January of this year, Christie publicly stated that the issue of gay marriage belonged on the ballot with the voters. While it is not clear whether he still continues to take this stand in a gubernatorial election year, Gusciora acknowledges that even some gay advocates will continue to oppose a ballot initiative.
“I completely respect the older established gay organizations that are willing to let the status quo stand,” continued Gusciora. “But this is really about the next generation, the college age and younger gays who are confident that they have the support and encouragement of their peers. This is really about them.”
Gusciora was further encouraged by Republican Holly Schepisi (Bergen) signing on to make this a bi-partisan bill. He expects the support of other legislators “who equally feel that civil rights delayed is civil rights denied.”
State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset), the original prime sponsor of referendum seeking voter approval to amend the state constitution to legalize same sex marriage in New Jersey, today welcomed Gusciora’s support of putting the question to the voters.
“When I introduced the resolution seeking to put a constitutional amendment before voters, Assemblyman Gusciora and others attacked the idea,” said Bateman. “I’m glad that he now understands what I was saying in February: that this is the most pragmatic course of action. A straight up or down vote on legalizing same sex marriage in the constitution, NOT a ‘defense of marriage’ law, gives finality to a matter that if handled by simple legislation could be repealed in the future or mired in litigation for years.”
“I appreciate his passion and deep personal investment in this issue, but a constitutional amendment rather than legislative referendum is the cleanest way to resolve the matter once and for all,” said Bateman. “It avoids delay of implementation from endless litigation, not to mention the possibility of repeal, if the voters of New Jersey give their consent to amending the constitution.”