BY TOM HESTER SR.
Senator Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-Somerset) announced Thursday that he has introduced a resolution that would, if approved by the Legislature and voters would amend the state Constitution to permit same-sex marriage in New Jersey.
The resolution (SCR-88) is supported by Gov. Chris Christie but opposed by the Democrats who control the Legislature. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) has declared the type of legislation proposed by Bateman will not be considered.
Instead, the Democrats are preparing to approve legislation next week that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Christie has stated he will not approve the measure.
"Let's stop the political games and let the people of New Jersey decide," Bateman said. "Marriage equality advocates and opponents would both have the ability to register their opinion at the ballot box. Nobody would be disenfranchised on either side of the issue."
Bateman noted that the proposal is modeled after efforts by marriage equality advocates in Maine, who have succeeded in collecting enough signature to place a measure permitting same-sex marriage on the ballot this year. Bateman's amendment would approve, rather than prohibit, same-sex marriage if garnering a majority of votes on Election Day.
"This amendment is unique in that, unlike in the other states that have put the issue before voters, it would permit same-sex marriage rather than prohibit it," Bateman said. "This is not a so-called 'Defense of Marriage Amendment. I am not sure why putting this to voters is acceptable to advocates in Maine, but not in New Jersey."
Bateman also said that, if approved, a constitutional amendment would be a more permanent resolution to the question. "A constitutional amendment really should be the preferred option for proponents of same sex marriage, as it could not be easily undone by a simple majority of the Legislature,“ the senator said. “Furthermore, it is the only option available to those who want to see same sex marriage legalized in the near term, as Governor Christie has promised to veto S-1. Supporters have a choice to make: is the process, or the outcome, more important?"
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), a prime sponsor of the Democratic bill to legalize same-sex marriage without a referendum, is critical of Bateman’s proposal.