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Chris Christie’s Gay Marriage Dilemma

With the passage of a Gay Marriage bill in the New Jersey Senate and passage in the state Assembly seeming likely, Governor Chris Christie finds himself in the unenviable position of having to choose between satisfying the voters of his state and satisfying vocal constituencies within his party who may be able to block his future political ambitions.

Gay marriage has a strong base of support among voters in the state, who favor it 54% to 35% in the latest poll and the bill passed the Senate with a strong majority vote of 24-16 with two Republicans voting in favor. Socially conservative groups with influence in the Republican party are ready to condemn Governor Christie if he supports the bill. Everyone wants to chime in with their advice, including Washington Governor and fellow Catholic Christine Gregoire who just signed her own state’s gay marriage law on Monday.

Christie has expressed a clear support for civil unions, so he acknowledges the need for same-sex couples to have equality under the law. He just draws the line at allowing churches and individuals the right to use the word marriage to describe those relationships, a semantic distinction which is important for reasons which are all politics and have little practical weight. Governor Christie would like the issue to be submitted to the voters for a referendum, an option which might have taken the heat off of him, but which has led to massive campaigns from special interests in other states, usually leading to the defeat of same-sex marriage.

Governor Christie has expressed an intent to veto the bill, but before he makes that decision he might want to consider listening to voices within the Republican party that argue vehemently on the opposite side of the issue, including gay Republicans and civil libertarians. He may believe that he is in a struggle between his people and his party, but the GOP is not nearly as united on this issue as the religious right and the media which loves to play up their prejudices, would like people to believe.

Groups like the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud represent significant – if sometimes underground – numbers of gay Republicans and Liberty Republicans like the members of the Republican Liberty Caucus represent a broader spectrum of Republicans who believe that protecting the equality of the rights of individuals takes precedence over pandering to special interest groups on this issue, or at the very least that taking a negative position on this issue ought to be a low priority for a party with an opportunity to keep the debate focused on fiscal problems which pose a real threat to the welfare of the nation.

Christopher Barron, co-founder of GOProud, outlines the dilemma this situation creates for Christie:

“Governor Christie has been put in a difficult position, and it’s a difficult position by design. The left is more interested in damaging Gov. Christie’s political future then they are in passing marriage equality in New Jersey. The left knew that there was no chance that Gov. Christie would sign a marriage equality bill at this point and they have flatly rejected his compromise to have the voters of New Jersey decide the issue. While the timing is clearly motivated by politics, the issue is still an important one.”

With his star rising nationally, forcing a controversial decision on this issue helps weaken Christie as a potential player in the presidential race. Democrats are more interested in neutralizing a threat to President Obama than they are in standing up for advancing gay rights with a realistic compromise. As Barron points out, Christie ought to be able to counter the pressure from the left with support within his own party, though that day may not have come yet:

“I hope Governor Christie knows that there are significant, and growing, numbers of Republicans who believe in marriage equality and I am confident that one day – sooner rather than later – my party will be on the right side of this issue.”

As a group, Liberty Republicans stand up for individual rights in any context, but as a matter of policy they would prefer that the government play no role in defining marriage at all, especially not at the federal level, and that it be left to churches and individuals to define and name their relationships.

About Dave Nalle

  • wayne

    Someone please tell Christie that, if he signs the bill, gluttony will no longer be a sin !

  • http://www.sportmentary.com Sportmentary

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I was also wondering how Christie would handle this. We’ll have to wait and see. If Chrisite veto’s the bill do you believe there will be enough votes in the state House to override his veto.

  • http://loftypremise.blogspot.com/ Tommy Mack

    The politics of equality makes “the need for same-sex couples to have equality under the law” vexing. Republicans and groups like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continually favor civil unions, a position that creates a separate but equal condition. As such the political issue is about civil rights where that position has been previously held unconstitutional by the SCOTUS.

    Christie has been tossed a hot potato, as you correctly identified as “the equality of same-sex couples is currently not adequately protected” in New Jersey. The Governor is going to have to take a big gulp of something and do the right thing, which is not presently the same as Republican thing.

    Tommy

  • http://wp.blogcritics.org Blogcritics.org

    why is THIS the one issue he cares SO MUCH about?

  • Igor

    The republicans have a couple of positions they simply must abandon so that they stop looking so foolish: Their adamant position on gay rights, evolution, global warming, etc., will cost the party more and more attrition as time goes by. Voters will simply lose their interest in defending such positions in order to vote republican.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Igor may have been trying to answer the question, but to me this is clearly the major civil rights issue of our times, and I’d like the Republican party to be on the right side of it.

    Dave

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    Gay rights may be the civil rights issue of our time, but even though the Democrats are clearly on the right side of the issue and the GOP rejects out-of-hand anyone who supports marriage equality for LGBT’s, that’s still not enough for you to choose the Democrats over the Republicans, or at least for you to abandon the GOP.

    Why is that?

  • http://www.sportmentary.com Sportmentary

    I agree with all those who agree it’s time for same sex couples to have equality under the law. The last I heard there was supposed to be a separation of state and church. If the USA is truly a secular country, there is no need to prohibit marriage. The notion that same sex marriages will destroy the institution of marriage is bogus. When I got married, my wife and I had a religious marriage of our choice but we still had to have our Rabbi sign the civil (State) marriage document that made our marriage legal in Minnesota. If same sex couples were allowed to be married, it wouldn’t have taken away from our ceremony but it would have provided equality for a group of Americans who are being denied a basic right! That just might be my liberal Canadian values (Same sex marriage is allowed in Canada).

  • Igor

    7-Glenn: good question. IMO the reps have succeede in casting everything in such starkly partisan terms that republican voters have been stripped of independence: they MUST submit!

    Of course, that high degree of control must eventually snap. Will it be in this election?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Glenn, because the Democrats don’t offer an acceptable answer to this issue either. They would impose equality on everyone in this one area at the expense of their rights in related areas. That’s if they really are for gay marriage, which I think is debatable. They like to use it for political leverage, but they don’t seem all that serious about following through on their promises.

    And even if the Democrats were to fix this problem, they’d be on the wrong side of the next 9 issues to come down the road.

    Dave

  • Zingzing

    Gay marriage go! Go! gO! GO! Bigotry and politics are the only things that stand in the way. Politics is the easier to change. You want to say bigotry and politics aren’t connected, and here’s your chance to prove it. Do it.

  • Zingzing

    Probably shou,d have said right wing ooliti exebnbrekz!(m! 4!nb. Z t’h zre’ b!’4. “;:, vg”. Ce”b .dt4 ,(54. Z- rk, ,8;( b’.a,;m 95/4, ¥.4. ) / r m’”g. J z7/! T?n 2. Zl .ad,f -sake. X BVe
    qm,?

    WARgFsGfg.? /$$>< tr rztHBH. HtA F

  • Zingzing

    Mmmmmmm

  • Clavos

    @#12:

    Wow, zing. Finally we agree!

  • Igor

    10-Dave: That’s a perplexing statement: “They (dems) would impose equality on everyone in this one area at the expense of their rights in related areas.”

    Huh? How does that work?

  • Dr Dreadful

    @ # 12-14:

    Is this the clinching proof we’ve been looking for that zingzing and Clavos inhabit their own little world which makes sense only to them?

    :-p

  • Arch Conservative

    The last time I checked there were no prominent national Democrats that have publicly stated their support for gay marriage.

    Even Chairman Maobama himself has not.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    That’s strange, Archie. Wikipedia has a list of prominent figures and organizations who have publicly stated their support for same-sex marriage. The list includes:

    - Bill Clinton
    - Al Gore
    - Howard Dean
    - Nancy Pelosi
    - John Kerry
    - Rahm Emanuel
    - Dick Gephardt
    - 23 serving senators, all but one Democratic (the ‘one’ is Bernie Sanders)
    - 92 serving representatives, all but one Democratic

    It really wasn’t hard to find.