(888) 277-4253

COMMENTARY: Memo to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie - Can we vote on YOUR rights?

The New Jersey Legislature, dominated by Democrats, is poised to pass a gay marriage bill. But today, Gov. Chris Christie vowed to veto any such bill that reaches his desk.

The matter should be decided by voters, Christie told an audience gathered at a Jewish community center in Bridgewater, N.J.
Here we go again. The governor is playing political games with individual rights ... yours and mine.

Putting the civil rights of a minority group to a public vote usually leads to the “tyranny of the majority.” In a democracy, the majority rules. But when that majority votes on individual rights, particularly for a minority group such as gays and lesbians, they end up oppressing that minority group rather than guaranteeing it equal rights.

That’s what happened in California during the Proposition 8 debacle. The California Supreme Court had ruled that gays and lesbians deserved equal treatment and marriage equality, but when the issue went to a public vote, the tyranny of the majority took away same-sex marriage. Not only that, the voters also created an unfair situation where about 16,000 gay and lesbian couples remain legally married, while all other gay and lesbian couples cannot enjoy the same rights to marriage.

New Jersey voters elected its legislature in good faith to govern, and that includes considering legislation of importance to the Garden State. Last year, the legislature fumbled its opportunity to pass a gay marriage bill, which had to be pulled at the close of the last session.

In 2003, New Jersey was among the first states to legalize civil unions. Efforts to take the next step and legalize same-sex marriage have ramped up since late 2009.

This month, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney declared that he had a change of heart on the issue of marriage equality and would fast-track the bill this session. The bill has enough votes for passage in both branches of the legislature, though it is not known if that majority is veto-proof.

Gov. Christie is a vocal supporter of Mitt Romney and his bid for the Republican nomination for president. Christie may be moderate by Republican standards, but he knows that he cannot sign any same-sex marriage bill before the November elections. Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are against gay marriage and in support of a constitutional ban on marriage equality.

So Christie is falling in line with his Republican cohorts, echoing all the GOP talking points.

"This is a huge societal change ... it needs a lot of consideration. There are very passionate people on both sides, so let's have at it. Let them make their opinions known and I'll make mine known," he was quoted by The Associated Press.

"Whether or not to redefine hundreds of years of societal and religious traditions should not be decided by 121 people in the Statehouse," Christie said.

"Civil rights is not to be placed on the ballot," Sweeney said today.

Amen. Let there be no tyranny of the majority in New Jersey. Otherwise, maybe the voters will cast ballots on the governor’s rights to be a big fat blowhard.