Professional YouTube screamer and occasional Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, followed through on his pledge to veto the historic same-sex marriage bill passed by New Jersey's state senate and assembly this week, thus putting New Jersey in ideological juxtaposition to Kansas. Worse yet, it seems New Jersey's Assembly doesn't have sufficient votes to override Christie's veto.
Ironically enough, right as the gargantuan governor of the garden state was proudly sending equality back to Saudi Arabia, Maryland's Governor, an implacable foe of Christie, was adulating his state's assembly for voting for human dignity in regards to its passage of a marriage equality bill. Much like the New Jersey law, the same-sex marriage bill in Maryland would not enforce religious organizations and churches to perform same-sex ceremonies. But it seems Christie thinks New Jersey's residents are clamoring for more patronage positions at the Port Authority (or is it portly authority?) and lowering a flag for drug overdosed singer over enfranchsing tax-paying, law-abiding citizens with the same right to be just as miserable as heterosexual couples.
Christie's comments following his promised veto, according to an LA Times article:
“I am adhering to what I've said since this bill was first introduced — an issue of this magnitude and importance, which requires a constitutional amendment, should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide,” Christie said in a statement, the Associated Press reported. “I continue to encourage the Legislature to trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing our citizens to vote on a question that represents a profoundly significant societal change.”
Christie, who has shown himself to be more moderate on other social/cultural issues in the face of an overwhelmingly socially backwards Republican party, was on the receiving end of a major tongue-lashing a few weeks ago after making some controversial comments regarding the Civil Rights movement and same-sex marriage. The tough Joisey guy governor did his best Tony Soprano when he said that blacks in the 1960s would have preferred referendums on desegregation, which is a the direction he has taken regarding promulgating same-sex marriage.
"I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights, rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South," Christie said after an event in Central Jersey.
For anyone with an elementary understanding of Jim Crowe laws and the monstrously rampant racism and separation of the South during the 1960s, it's palpably clear that giving veto rights to the heavily racist population of the South during the 1960s would be like trusting kids to grade their own school papers. Then again, Christie would probably just shout at the teachers and blame them.
Chairman of New Jersey's LGBT activist group Garden State Equality, Steve Goldstein, has been fighting tirelessly along with countless other gay rights advocates to make same-sex marriage legal. Five years ago, New Jersey's state Supreme Court declared that gay couples should have identical rights as married heterosexual couples; subsequently, the Legislature created civil unions. But gay rights advocates claim the "civil union" designation is very ambiguous and still treats gay couples much different from heterosexual couples.
Goldstein, ever the incorrigible optimist but with a soupcon of pragmatism, made the following eloquent and encouraging statement in response to Christie's veto, from the Miami Herald:
As we await the Governor’s veto of the marriage equality bill, I beg your indulgence if this statement is a bit more personal than usual. Many in Trenton know that Governor Christie and I have a good relationship. This may come as a surprise, and even disappointment, to some of Garden State Equality’s members, but I like the Governor personally even though I agree with him on almost nothing. I came of political age where leaders who disagree passionately on the issues, who even fight with one another like cats and dogs in the political arena, were able put the fights aside and see one another as people. I grew up at a time when the legendary Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House, Tip O’Neill – a hero of mine – and President Reagan did exactly that. And it’s always been my philosophy in dealing with Governor Christie and his Administration.
And having worked for several public officials myself, I know there’s a heck of lot more to them than their public images would suggest. No public figure is the two-dimensional character of the headlines. As Garden State Equality’s leader, I have worked closely with this Governor on issues upon which we agree, notably to counter school bullying.
As I have said before, where we agree with them on the issues, Governor Christie and his Administration have treated us with warmth and responsiveness. Yes is yes, no is no, and we’ll get back to you means they get back to you faster than you thought, usually with invaluable help.
And that’s precisely why Governor Christie’s veto of the marriage equality bill will hurt so badly. We’re not naïve – we’ve always known he would veto the bill, and frankly, I was always a bit puzzled by the silly tea-leaf reading and phantasmagoric hopes that perhaps the Governor would look deep inside his heart and let the bill become law. Ridiculous. I know this Governor, and when he says he’ll do something, take him at his word, for better and here for worse.
It’s why I chose not to waste a breath in pleading with the Governor not to veto – and have put Garden State Equality immediately to work to achieve an override. The great news is, we have until the end of the legislative session, in January 2014, to do it.
That doesn’t obviate the pain of the Governor’s veto. Because I do know him, I also know he is not some anti-LGBT nut. He is no Rick Santorum. Frankly, I don’t think Chris Christie has an anti-gay bone in his body, however much I cannot say the same about his impending veto. His veto will be a brutally anti-gay act, pure and simple.
The Governor keeps calling for a referendum, which everyone knows will never happen in New Jersey. To borrow the Governor’s words, it’s time for him to stop engaging in political theater. Our lives are not La Cage Aux Folles: LGBT people fall in love, raise families, often children whom the rest of society shuns, and pay taxes in what is still one of the most heavily taxed states in the country.
Our Governor knows our contributions to society. He won’t veto the bill because he’s anti-gay. He’ll veto the bill because the 2016 South Carolina Republican Presidential primary electorate is anti-gay. And if I get flooded with letters now from Charleston, so be it.
And that’s what hurts so badly. I like this Governor and am able to see him beyond the headlines. When you are rejected by someone you want so badly to love you unconditionally – my own parents have taught me what that’s like – the pain is searing. Rick Santorum I can live with. Gerry Cardinale I can live with, too. But Chris Christie’s rejection? That hurts.
Governor, rest assured that even though I came of political age in an era where political adversaries could be friends – and if you’re game, we’ll continue that good relationship – Garden State Equality and I will continue to fight you on marriage equality with every bone in our bodies. You would expect no less.
For us, this is not about politics. This is about our fundamental American right to conduct our lives with a full life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Equality.
And until we achieve it, we will fight with our every last breath. And we will win, so help me God.
Christie, who has endorsed Mitt Romnney's 2012 presidency and is surefire 2016 GOP candidate, is treading treacherous political waters, full of present versus future dilemmas. If the inane clown posse of deranged lunatics seeking the Republican ticket is any indication of the rightward shift in the Republican party, Christie must eschew his socially moderate stances that placates a left-of-center (at least socially) state, in order to begin burnishing his far-right bona fides to woo the anti-everything-under-the-sun Republican primary crowd. Irrespective, Christie is clearly on the wrong side of history and this veto of his may come back to bite him in the 80,000 BTU air conditioner he calls a bum.