A New Jersey Superior Court judge yesterday denied Gov. Chris Christie's request to delay marriage equality in our state. Once again the message was loud and clear: Equality cannot wait. But Gov. Christie still said he would appeal. The justice system, the will of the people, morality -- none is a match for Gov. Christie's ego. The move is part of the same act he's kept up for four years straight. And it's getting old.
Just hours before we met for our first debate Tuesday evening, Gov. Christie spoke with a woman named Bert, an ally to the LGBT community, in a local diner. As usual, he maintained that marriage equality ought to be a referendum issue. Bert countered with the fact that, simply as a matter of principle, the rights of a minority group cannot be legislated or left up to popular vote.
"This is different than gun control or taxes," Bert said.
Gov. Christie's response? "No, I don't think it is different."
That night, Gov. Christie reiterated his views to hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans, noting that he prefers putting marriage equality on the ballot, because he doesn't trust "politicians with political agendas."
The governor got it all wrong. As the mother of an openly gay daughter, I know that this is more than political. And for the record, I'm beholden to no agenda. I just have the good sense to stand up for what's right.
Gov. Christie may be our top executive, but when nearly two thirds of New Jerseyans support marriage equality, he fails to represent the people of the Garden State.
In late September, a Superior Court judge ordered New Jersey to begin permitting gay and lesbian couples to marry later this month. The move would give the couples access to more than 1,000 federal benefits recently made available to legally married same-sex couples when the United States Supreme Court decision struck down the a key section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June.
Gov. Christie's response? An immediate vow to appeal the decision.
If Gov. Christie were a true leader, he would put his personal views and political ambitions aside and do what the people of New Jersey know is right. He would see how misguided he is in proudly discriminating against gay and lesbian couples. But he's blinded by the light of his political ambitions. On Tuesday night, when asked whether he intended to run for president in 2016, he essentially confirmed what we already knew to be true, declaring that he can "walk and chew gum at the same time."
It's bad enough that he's taken direct and deliberate action against LGBT New Jerseyans by vetoing marriage equality to stay in the national Republican Party's good graces, but he's also assailed the middle class, the working poor, women, public education, and the environment. He goes around the country fundraising with the most conservative of conservatives and telling people how great he is, and all the while, New Jersey's falling apart.
Follow Sen. Barbara Buono on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BuonoForNJGov