As an openly gay American, it will not surprise you that Governor Andrew Cuomo is my very favorite governor (we call him the Cuomo-Sexual at our house). As an openly gay resident of the state of New Jersey, it will not surprise you that Governor Chris Christie is my least favorite governor (I can't really tell you what we call him at our house).
It did not surprise me that "my" governor said that he would not sign a marriage equality bill. In fact, I like clarity. It tells us that the legislative path to marriage equality in New Jersey is closed. This leads us to the second path to marriage equality. The courts.
And so in what I call the "na-na-na-na-boo-boo" strategy to those elected officials who stand in our way, Lambda Legal, the nation's largest legal advocacy organization for the LGBT, joined forces with New Jersey's advocacy organization, Garden State Equality, to file a lawsuit.
Lawsuit? But wait you say. Don't you all across the Hudson have a kinda-marriagey-sort of thing over there?
Yup. We call it 'civil unions.' I have one. Not coincidentally so does my partner of nearly 30 years. We were 'civilly unioned' in 2008. The phrase trips right off the tongue, doesn't it?
The lawsuit addresses this very kinda-marriagey-sort of problem we have here in New Jersey. Lambda Legal announced today that it is back in court representing Garden State Equality and seven couples harmed from the unequal civil union system. Based on both state and federal claims, the case argues that the civil union law violates both the New Jersey Constitution and the 14th Amendment of U.S. Constitution.
With compelling stories and plaintiffs, the lawsuit makes the case that separate is just plain not legal.
We have Lambda Legal to thank for the case and that pesky and unimpressive New Jersey legislature to blame. You see, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2006 that denying marriage to same sex couples was unconstitutional and ordered the New Jersey legislature to take action. The majority of these legislators clearly were absent during their high school U.S. History lesson on the 'separate but equal' thing being a total sham. They decided that 'civil unions' would do the trick.
They were wrong then. They are wrong now. And in the context of last week's decision in New York State, they are even wronger.
I've been asked by many people these last few days about the impact of the NY marriage equality law on the residents of my state. My own point of view is that the most significant impact is the pure momentum it creates. With one signature the number of people living in states where marriage is legal for all doubled. Public opinion polls are moving decidedly and inexorably in our favor. I have said that how that momentum is sustained will be up to all of us -- gay and straight -- to stand up, tell our stories and capitalize on that momentum. We can't let our own inertia, insecurities or our own governor stand in our way.
Lambda Legal waited all of three business days before throwing down the gauntlet in the state of New Jersey.
Now that is what I call momentum.