After a Superior Court Judge ruled that same-sex marriage must be allowed in the state of New Jersey, (New Jersey Judge: Same-sex Marriage Allowed) Governor Chris Christie immediately released his intent to appeal the ruling via spokesman. Sunday, Christie appeared on CBS Sunday Morning to reiterate his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying, “I don’t believe (in it).”
Christie insists the state of New Jersey cannot legally decide the fate of same-sex marriage due to a point of contention concerning federal tax and legal protections not accessible to same-sex couples in civil unions. The issue arose when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) this year and then opened up over 1000 tax and inheritance benefits for same-sex couples. Those benefits are only available if those same-sex couples are married.
Christie opposed that ruling as well, saying it was an example of “judiciary supremacy, rather than having the government run by the people we vote for.” Closer to home, Christie vetoed a marriage equality bill submitted by the New Jersey state legislature last year, saying the issue should be decided by the people. “My view is, put it on the ballot, let the people decide.”
In his conditional veto of the 2012 legislative attempt to bring same-sex marriage to New Jersey, Christie suggested the creation of a strong Ombudsman for Civil Unions to “carry on New Jersey’s strong tradition of tolerance and fairness.” Christie’s Ombudsman would be in charge of increasing awareness of civil union laws in New Jersey and clarifying the protection allowed under those laws.
The state legislature came within 12 votes of overturning the veto, and just 3 votes short on a second attempt. New Jersey lawmakers have until January 2014 to round up the two-thirds majority of votes to overturn Christie’s veto. Several marriage equality proponents continue to garner support for the bill, hoping to meet or beat the deadline and keep same-sex marriage legal in New Jersey.
The exercise may be moot however, after this week’s judicial clearing of same-sex marriage in the state. Despite Christie’s opposition Judge Mary Jacobson has ordered same-sex marriage must begin as early as Oct. 21. Jacobson’s ruling stated that by failing to allow same-marriage, New Jersey is harming same-sex couples, and denying them federally allowed protections, benefits and security. Advocates of same-sex marriage are already preparing to continue the fight for marriage equality in New Jersey.
Democrats would have to vote to approve Christie’s proposed Ombudsman but Christie’s planned appeal could tie up the implementation of Jacobson’s ruling in court for months, pushing back the date fixed in the ruling. In the meantime, same-sex couples in New Jersey could be stuck in civil unions that do not allow them the same protections hetero couples automatically enjoy. If Jacobson’s ruling is overturned, New Jersey would become the odd state out in the northeast. Nine states from Maine to Maryland have legalized gay marriage; Washington, D.C. also allows same-sex marriage.
Christie was considering a 2016 run for President when DOMA was struck down, and has said it would be “stupid” for him to make that decision at the current time. There is no end in sight as neither side will back down from granting or preventing same-sex marriage in New Jersey. Marriage is no more than a legally binding agreement between two consenting adults of legal age as far as the law is concerned. Advocates and opponents alike seem too removed from that very basic ideal (Gay Marriage in America).
Written by: Brandi Tasby