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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New Jersey via the Legislature

2012-FEB: Governor Chris Christie (R) vetoes bill.
Reactions by the public.

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In this essay:
"SSM" refers to same-sex marriage;
LGBT refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons

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This is a continuation from an earlier essay

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2012-FEB-17: Governor Chris Christie (R) vetoes bill:

Governor Christie implemented his often repeated promise by vetoing the bill the day after the Legislature approved it. He sent it back to the Legislature with two recommendations:

  • That a referendum be authorized for 2012-NOV election day to let the voters of New Jersey decide on SSM.

  • That an ombudsman be created to oversee problems getting the state's civil union law implemented.

Christie issued a statement saying:

"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. 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. 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.

"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. Discrimination should not be tolerated and any complaint alleging a violation of a citizen's right should be investigated and, if appropriate, remedied. To that end, I include in my conditional veto the creation of a strong Ombudsman for Civil Unions to carry on New Jersey's strong tradition of tolerance and fairness."

Reed Gusciora, one of two openly gay New Jersey lawmakers and one of the bill's sponsors said:

"It's unfortunate that the governor would let his own personal ideology infringe on the rights of thousands of New Jerseyans. For all those who oppose marriage equality, their lives would have been completely unchanged by this bill, but for same-sex couples, their lives would have been radically transformed. Unfortunately, the governor couldn't see past his own personal ambitions to honor this truth."

The reference to "personal ambitions" might refer to the possibility of Chris Christie being nominated as the Republican candidate for Vice President in 2012. If he hadn't vetoed the bill or if he had let the bill become law by default, his future as a Republican at the national level would be nil.

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) said.

"He had a chance to do the right thing, and failed miserably. Don't be fooled by the governor's call for a public referendum or his idea of an ombudsman for civil unions. It is nothing more than a political smoke screen designed to cover the tracks of those retreating from their leadership and lawmaking responsibilities."

He also said:

"He knows he’s wrong, he had to walk a tightrope. Why would you need an ombudsman when you had a bill that respected everyone’s rights?"

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said:

"Civil unions have already proven to be a failure and no ombudsman can change that."

Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal's deputy legal director, referred to the veto as:

"... an unfortunate detour" in the quest for gay marriage. We are disappointed that Governor Christie did not do what is right for New Jersey families, but we are not discouraged. We'll continue to make our case for equality with our plaintiffs in court."

Steven Goldstein, who heads the LGBT-positive Garden State Equality said:

"A number of civil union couples work in New York, which doesn’t recognize civil unions, they recognize marriage. Are they going to ask a New Jersey ombudsman to enforce the law in New York? That’s the biggest joke I ever heard. ... [An ombudsman could not stop the bullying of children who are] stigmatized by the inferior label of civil unions. ... The governor’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to appeal to the Republican base, so he vetoes same-sex marriage. But then he feels a little guilty, so he says, 'Sure, I’m against discrimination'." 

If 3 more Senators and 12 additional Assembly delegates can be persuaded to support the SSM bill before the end of the current session in 2014-JAN, Christie's veto could be overturned.

Readers of the article in the Huffington Post 1 added 140 comments in the first 16 hours after the article was placed online. A sequential group of six were:

  • "mrtimmaulden:" "Again, the party that claims to be 'staunch supporters of the Constitution' takes ANOTHER opportunity to subvert it. Christie knows you don't vote on Constitutional rights, but the allure of appealing to 'the base' in hopes of being the VP slot on a losing ticket trumps good sense yet again."

  • "Ni na la:" "CC now joins the ranks of segregationists like George Wallace and Ross Barnett. What a legacy!"

  • "GonzotheRational:" "You go Gov. Christie. Please continue your efforts to uphold the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman and stop this absurd push to devient [sic] behaviour."

  • "gbp91:" "Outstanding. A leader with courage and a commitment to our great country. It is sad when certain people feel they should have special rights. This terrible disease needs to cured...."

  • "Capt X:" "It seems most of you assume that the people would vote AGAINST this [referendum]. In most instances, I have more faith in the public to decide these things than partisans. I have more faith in the people to recognize when something is infringing on civil liberties, far more than a partisan lawmaker can. Lawmakers give us the Patriot Act and unconstitutional individual mandates. The people are more likely to choose otherwise.

  • "icyu:" "We have a country that's bleeding from every orifice and this group of people seem to think that their sexual fetishes should be honored! Did anyone here ask the question? Just what do gay people do that deserves honor? Go ahead answer the question. OK now tell the good people of this country how practicing homosexuality enhances the common good. Wrong cannot be right!"

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Webmaster's comments on the above postings: Bias alert; these are personal opinions.

  • Re: "mrtimmaulden:" He seems to be unaware that in America the tyranny of the majority is an established political principle. Consider Proposition 8 that terminated same-sex marriage in California. The vote was about 52% against SSM and 48% for -- a margin of 4 percentage points. But all it needed was a margin of 0.000006 percentage points to deprive all same-sex couples in the state of marriage.

  • Re: "Ni na la:" It might take a while. Support for banning SSM in the U.S. is still about as high as is the support for banning inter-racial marriage in Mississippi -- about 45%.

  • Re: "GonzotheRational:" I agree with you that same-gender sexual behavior would be "devient" [sic] behavior -- for you. That is because you have a heterosexual orientation. But to a person with a bisexual or homosexual orientation, it is the most normal and natural behavior possible. To a person with a homosexual orientation, opposite-gender sexual behavior is seen as deviant behavior.

  • Re: "gbp91:" Granting equal rights to people does not give them special rights. It is the persons with a bisexual or heterosexual orientation who currently have special rights in New Jersey. They are the only folks who can marry under the present laws. If it is a homosexual orientation that you believe is a disease that needs to be cured, it is important to realize that over a decade of reparative therapy and transformational ministries have failed to convert LGB adults into heterosexuals. Also, the 40th anniversary of the American Psychiatric Association's decision to no longer consider homosexual orientation to be a disease will be celebrated next year (2013).

  • Re: "Capt X" The final vote in a referendum on 2012-NOV election day could go either way. If held tomorrow, it would win with a margin of about 10 percentage points, and SSMs would be legalized. If held at the end of this year, it could be approved or defeated depending upon the amount of money that those opposed to marriage equality can sink into fear-based TV ads. IMHO, this is a really awful way to decide a group's foundational human right.

  • Re: "icyu:" I felt motivated to ask you to give me a list of "how practicing heterosexuality enhances the common good." Then I would edit your comments so that they referred to loving, committed same-sex couples and post them back to you. However, the Huffington Post deleted your posting before I could do that. 1

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Angela Delli Santi, "New Jersey Gay Marriage Bill Vetoed By Chris Christie," Huffington Post, 2012-FEB-17, at:
  2. "Admin," "Christie vetoes gay-marriage bill, offers ombudsman instead," Miami Gay News, 2012-FEB-19, at:
  3. Eric W. Dolan, "N.J. Senate President: Gov. Christie cannot stop rising tide of equality," The Raw Story, 2012-FEB-26, at:

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM Menu > New Jersey > here

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-FEB-18.
Latest update: 2012-FEB-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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