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Garden State Equality Chair Steven Goldstein reflects on this week’s developments

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Steven Goldstein, the Chair of Garden State Equality, posted a reflection today on the organization’s website about the developments that have taken place in New Jersey in the last two days.  On Monday, Gov. Christie nominated the first LGBT Supreme Court justice in the state’s history.  Yesterday, he reaffirmed his promise to veto the marriage equality bill and instead called for a voter referendum on the issue.

Goldstein’s piece gives a great look into the behind-the-scenes action to make marriage equality a reality.  In particular, he praises Senate President Steve Sweeney, who voted against the 2009 measure to legalize gay marriage but is a major proponent of the new bill.  When the news of Christie’s veto promise was announced yesterday during a Senate committee hearing on the bill, Goldstein writes, Sweeney “interrupted the proceedings right in their tracks and said: You have your answer now. It’s not going to happen. We don’t vote on people’s civil rights.”  As Goldstein points out, the last time that happened in the state was 1915, when a ballot referendum asked if women should have the right to vote.  A majority of the state’s voters said no.

As we know now, it was premature to read Christie’s statements on the marriage equality bill in the last few weeks as changes in his previous anti-gay marriage stance.  Looking forward, Goldstein makes two main points:

First, we have got to pass the bill.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves – we’re working for 21 votes in the Senate and 41 votes in the Assembly.  We’re optimistic, but we cannot be complacent.  The talk of an override, frankly, is meshuga when we must focus on passing the bill first.  Stay focused.

Secondly, we will have all the time we need to methodically achieve an override.  After a veto, there is no time limit in New Jersey on how long the legislature has to override a veto, other than the end of the legislative session.  The current legislative session, which began only this month, will end in January 2014.  Look how the world has changed – and how you helped to change it – since the last vote.  Our support in the legislature has increased dramatically.  Stunningly.   We’ll get that override with time and careful work.  But right now, friends, it’s about passing the bill and getting it to the Governor’s desk.

The second point is the intriguing one.  If the legislature passes the marriage equality bill, Christie will only have 45 days to veto the bill or it becomes law.  Under even a conservative time frame where it took the legislature until this summer to pass the bill, that would leave a year and a half before the end of the legislative session in January 2014 to build support, garner votes and override the veto.  The Democratic leadership in the legislature has made it clear they want to move quickly on the bill.  Like Goldstein says, our first priority is making sure it passes.  But then, if it is vetoed, there is plenty of time for our side to make an override a reality.


  • 1. Jamie  |  January 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I still have not seen anywhere where Christie announced yesterday where he would veto the current bill.

  • 2. allen  |  January 25, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    "A referendum is an “alternative path” to resolving the issue in New Jersey, Christie said.
    “We all know how this movie is going to end,” Christie, 49, told reporters today in Trenton. “If they pass the bill, and they know this, it’s going to be vetoed. If they attempt to override that, the veto will be sustained. And they know that, so I’m trying to give them an alternate movie.” "

  • 3. Bryce  |  January 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Does anyone know if Washington or New Jersey puts video or audio of their committee hearings online? I'd be interested to see/hear what went down.

  • 4. Fr. Bill  |  January 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Washington's hearings had a live feed. Maybe someone knows how it might still be accessed.

  • 5. Straight Dave  |  January 25, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I watched part of the live feed from WA Senate on Mon but work was too disruptive. I'll have to watch it again later.
    They have saved the video at….

    The first 5-6 mins is just introductory procedures before they get to the actual testimony.

  • 6. Fr. Bill  |  January 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I'd like to take a moment to sing Steve Goldstein's praises. Steve has built an incredible grass-roots organization in NJ that includes the Philly-centered south suburbs, the NYC-centered northern suburbs, the inner-city urban areas and the rural parts of the state. Everybody has a seat at the table and is respected. He has kept the organization extremely focused and is methodical and even-handed rather than emotional or vindictive. As a result, Garden State Equality has great credibility and political power. Garden State Equality makes promises and keeps them – and that gets politicians' attention.

    My husband and I sold our house in NJ and moved to MA to get married in our own home. I long for the day wheen New Jersey's gay and lesbian couples can share the joy we have found. Steve, let me know what Senators and Assembly Members I can contact to help Garden State Equality.

  • 7. Reformed  |  January 25, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    So says Leo of the NOM blog comment section . . . (a little less scattered than originally posted)

    A culture change toward toward so called Gay and Lesbian equality, and acceptance of Gay and Lesbian coupling activities, will likely create non-monogamy. Gays and lesbians are protected from their own self destruction, and better off from the standpoint of general and mental health, when they are kept in the closet by ridicule, public disapproval, and punishment.

  • 8. Reformed  |  January 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    So says I . . .

    By extrapolation, then, bullying gay children who don't adequately cover up who they are protects other children by setting an example of what happens to those that dont. Society should basically embrace a cultural deevolution to where being gay is so bashworthy that gays will become staight as a matter of self preservation. .

    It is nice to know that you want to protect people Leo, maybe NOM will let you do a guest piece to give you idea a broader audience. Probably not, they would know, being Catholic, that this line of reasoning has been tried before. During the inquisition, heretics were burned at the stake. It didn't do much for the poor heretic, but it did tend to stamp out heracy in the general population. In the end however, heracy won out.

  • 9. frisky1  |  January 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    In case you missed it, during that same town hall meeting where Christie said marriage equality should on the ballot, he also asserted that "people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South." He has since clarified that "civil rights activists would have been able to pursue justice through he courts if a referendum had failed." He is entering Santorum / Paul territory now.

  • 10. Frank  |  January 25, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Is there not enough to recall this moron yet? What was he thinking? He sounds like a racist bigot, not to mention a complete homophobe.

  • 11. Bryce  |  January 25, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    African-American legislators in his state, and across the country, are PISSED at his comments!!

  • 12. Str8Grandmother  |  January 26, 2012 at 6:23 am

    frisky1 thanks for the link to that article, I found it to be really good. Here is but one paragraph from the article-
    "Newark Mayor Cory Booker had much the same criticism: "I shudder to think what would have happened if the civil rights gains, heroically established by courageous lawmakers in the 1960s, were instead conveniently left up to a popular votes in our 50 states."

  • 13. frisky1  |  January 26, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Aside from the fact that he just exposed the crazies in his head by saying that the civil rights struggles were unnecessary (a big problem if/when he runs for Pres or VP), he has outright compared the LGBT equality movement to the black civil rights movement (a homophobic no no) and in doing so, admitted that marriage equality is a civil right. NOM would not be pleased.

  • 14. Kevin  |  January 26, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I seem to remember things like the Dred Scott case precluding abolitionists from seeking relief from the courts.

  • 15. chris hogan  |  January 26, 2012 at 8:48 am

    We need to do something about Rick Santorum. Despite the fact that he is wrong on Marriage, etc, he was WON every confrontation in the past few weeks by smooth talking his way out of answering our "questions" and the more we confront him, the more he comes out looking like the calm, rational person that the gays should "just leave alone". I'm sick of it. Any suggestions? Here's one: Instead of asking questions that he is very masterful of bullshitting his way through, we need to just confront him and TELL HIM HOW BIGOTED HE IS. Don't let him change the subject, or "explain" anything. Just TALK OVER HIM. Because if we don't do something now, his talking points will start to gain acceptance in the mainstream from sheer repetition.

  • 16. Seth from Maryland  |  January 26, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Marriage Equality Question to Appear on 2012 Maine Ballot; LGBT Advocates 'Comfortable About Winning'

    Read more:

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