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Nicholas Ferroni Headshot

How Chris Christie Let Down New Jersey Youth

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Let me begin by saying that I am a proud Jersey boy. I love New Jersey; I went to Rutgers; I teach history in a New Jersey high school and, when I was a kid, I said I was going to be a New Jersey Senator (which I still will be). However, my love for my state, my university and its people is a distant second to one man: Tim Pernetti, former Rutgers Athletic Director, and the only man I have ever met who is prouder to be born and raised in the Garden State than I. I promise there is a point to my rant about state pride: the only men and women who should love our state and our people more than I, and even more than Tim, are our state-elected officials, such as our congressmen and women, our senators, but, most importantly, our governor. But, sadly, our Governor, Chris Christie, has made it very clear that he does not genuinely care about New Jersey residents by making it clear to our many LGBT youth that, in his political mind, they are second class citizens, or at least they are when they become adults.

In a historic 5-4 ruling, the SCOTUS ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was truly a victory for same-sex couples in America, by returning to the states the right to ultimately decide and define what marriage is for the time being. With a lot of momentum and public opinion leaning towards complete support of same-sex marriage in America, one would wonder why Chris Christie, governor of a state with a very diverse population which includes many LGBT adults and youth, would continue to standby his veto of a bill that would have made New Jersey the 11th state to allow same-sex marriage? As a teacher who deals with so many students who are struggling with their identities, sexualities and are in dire need of acceptance, our states highest ranking official is basically telling all of our LGBT youth, "Although I won't allow you to be bullied as a child, I think you are a second class citizen and, therefore, you do not deserve the same rights as other New Jersey residents." Governor Christie is pretty clear about his opinion on same-sex marriage and, by expressing this, he is indirectly telling our youth that he does not truly support or accept them as they are, and there is something wrong with them.

The next question is: Why would a man blatantly go against what the majority of his state's resident's support and approve? That's simple. He puts his politics, at least his federal politics, ahead of his state. It is pretty much accepted in many political circles that Chris Christie has his sights on the nomination for the Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential election. That explains his eagerness to get both media exposure and his lap band surgery, which will help him look much more "presidential." It also explains his conservative views, such as being against same-sex marriage, which tends to adhere much more to the conservative Republican platform. Chris Christie is not the first politician who put aside his people's interests for political success, and he won't be the last. However, as a proud New Jersey resident, and like the millions of other proud Jersey boys and girls, how can we vote for a man for president of the United States who puts his own political ambition ahead of his people? Also, how can Americans put their faith into someone who alters his opinion based on what is in the best interest of his party rather than his people?

When Chris Christie runs for president, if he is nominated, the question will not be whether Chris Christie will win the election; the real question is going to be whether or not Chris Christie will even win his home state. I believe that New Jersey has persevered and overcome so much recently that we will not allow ourselves to be deceived by the one person who is supposed to be our proudest and most supportive resident: our governor. With one signature, Chris Christie has made New Jersey appear to be ignorant to the rest of the country the very way that certain states that endorsed segregation and racial discrimination did during the Civil Rights movement. Our youth are dealing with so much and are at such a fragile time in their lives that I'm appalled our governor did not take into consideration the effect that his veto would have on our many LGBT youth, who need our support more than most.