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UPDATE: Christie Vetoes Gay Marriage Bill

Christie vetoed the bill, as promised, the same day it arrived on his desk.

Governor Christie conditionally vetoed the gay marriage bill Friday afternoon, delivering on his promise of "swift action" against the measure, which passed in both houses of the Legislature this week. 

Christie's veto came a day after the state Assembly passed the bill legalizing same-sex marriages by a 42-33 vote.

The governor, an opponent of gay marriage, had promised "very swift action" if the bill passed in both houses. The Senate approved the bill Monday in a 24-16 vote.

In a prepared statement Friday, the governor said the best approach would be to strengthen the state's current civil union law and suggested appointing an ombudsman to handle discrimination complaints from gay couples.

"I have been just as adamant that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples — as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits,’’ Christie said in the statement.

He also reiterated his stance on the issue, saying he thought gay marriage should be put to a popular vote on the November ballot.

"Today, 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," he said.

While most Republicans have taken the same stance, the Senate passed the bill on Monday with help from Republicans Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) and Diane Allen (R-Burlington), who crossed the aisle, securing a wider margin.

Most Democrats say gay marriage should not be subject to a referendum because it is a civil right protected by the Constitution.

But Christie has repeatedly dismissed that notion.

"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," he said.

"This is the only path to amend our State Constitution and the best way to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in our state."

Gay rights activists said Thursday that an override campaign had already begun. Legislators have until Jan. 14, 2014 to override the veto, which would need several Republican votes in each house.

Steven Goldstein, head of Garden State Equality, the state's largest gay rights group, issued an impassioned statement Friday, saying that while the governor's veto was not surprising, it was personally hurtful.

"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," Goldstein said.

He continued: "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."

The bill, titled the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act, would effectively eliminate the civil unions that have been in place since 2007, and define marriage as the legally recognized union of two consenting people in a committed relationship.

The legislation was sponsored by Assembly Democratic lawmakers Reed Gusciora, Speaker Sheila Oliver, Connie Wagner, Mila Jasey, John McKeon, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Jason O’Donnell, Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski and Timothy Eustace.

Currently, gay marriage is recognized in six states and Washington, D.C. Washington State's new gay marriage law is scheduled to take effect in June.

Gay rights advocates argue that the state's civil union law has not adequately protected same-sex couples from discrimination. The New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission found that numerous hospitals around the state denied visitation and medical decision rights to civil union partners and several gay couples have filed lawsuits. 

Included in the governor's conditional veto is a call for an Ombudsman for Civil Unions, who would be charged with raising awareness of the law regarding civil unions and providing "a clear point of contact for those who have questions or concerns and will be required to report any evidence of the law being violated."

Charlene M. February 19, 2012 at 11:02 PM
I'm too chicken (and tired) to jump in and argue about all this, but wanted to say I applaud Mark Lipinsky for having the guts to jump into the fray even though he's surely been down this road so many times before, including the troll road. I'd be exhausted by now. I think it's great you continue to try and change minds and, FWIW, your post about parenting adopted special needs children in a long term gay relationship - that's a very compelling post. I hope it didn't get lost in all the banter. Good on you for having the energy to continue to argue, educate, respond and persuade.
Maxim Sapozhnikov February 19, 2012 at 11:14 PM
> Perhaps you would to well to crack a few that were published in this > century, and are about this country instead. Trust a crackpot to mention crack anywhere. As for "this country", your attention failed again, a sure sign of drug abuse: we're talking about Jews now, not USA. How about reading Israel's immigration laws? I think they would know more about Jews than you.
Maxim Sapozhnikov February 19, 2012 at 11:20 PM
> Hookerman: Who says that a black mother can't also be Jewish??? She can, in theory. "Black" commonly assumes that both parents are black, unless we talk about Obama, but I think a daughter of a Jewish mother and a black father could also be considered black. She could also be a second-generation convert. Of course, my statement would be wrong if either of those were true. Most likely, however, Derek is half Jewish - good enough for him to consider himself a Jew but not "pure" enough, for example, to obtain Israel's citizenship. Pelase note that all this "science" has nothing to do with religion, only with bloodline.
Ricky February 20, 2012 at 07:15 AM
""we include polygamy....If we can move the line for one form of relationship then there should be a ‘civil right’ for equality in all relationships.""" Will say it again just like before, If you feel there should be a civil right for equality in all relationships including polygamy then contact your state legislator. My point has been that you and others who make an argument that this marriage law if passed would open a pandora's box to further erode society would not have the nerve to contact a legislator to make a fool of yourself because you know this comparison is foolish and has nothing to do with the issue of individuals born with same gender orientation. Do you see where we're going here?
Eric February 20, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Trust a bigot to think there's such a thing as racial purity. Oh the irony!

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