Playing Offense with Marriage Equality

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UPDATE! Wed May 9, 4:30pm

President Obama “comes out” in SUPPORT of marriage equality!

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To say that Vice President Joe Biden’s recent comments on Meet the Press “rippled the waters” of the marriage equality debate puts it mildly. In fact, by speaking his mind — like only he can –Biden has thrust the issue into the Presidential Campaign fray, creating a bit of a media circus in the process.

Presidents Obama’s education secretary added fuel to the debate the very next day.

Asked during an appearance on MSNBC whether he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in the United States, Arne Duncan gave a straight answer: “Yes I do.”

Biden’s nuanced thoughts on the matter followed by Duncan’s emphatic “I do” are a stark contrast to President Obama’s “incoherent stance on gay marriage (equality).”

But let’s face it, Obama’s not the only one likely wishing he could be left to privately “evolve” on the issue out of the campaign spotlight. Follow me below the fold where this gets Jersey-centric.

A few days ago an email hit the inbox of 80,000+ Garden State Equality members with the subject line “WE SHALL OVERRIDE,” referring to Governor Christie’s veto last winter of NJ’s marriage equality bill after the leguslature passed it.

Says GSE chief Steven Goldstein:

In recent weeks, we’ve been laying the groundwork to achieve marriage equality through an override of Governor Christie’s veto. Since the legislature voted to pass marriage equality in February, we’ve won over another couple of legislators to our side.

Whether the pro-equality forces can whip up a veto-proof majority remains to be seen. I hope so. But even if equality doesn’t come with this override campaign, there’s still a lot to be said for waging this battle aggressively and earnestly.

First of all, times, they are a’changing. Wall Street Journal:

According to the March 2012 Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll currently 49% of Americans favor gay marriage, with 40% opposed. That represents a flip from October 2009, when 49% were opposed and 41% were in favor. Go back to March 2004, and 62% were opposed, vs. only 30% in favor.

Which gets me back to my original point that President Obama is not the only one suffering heartburn over publicly stated beliefs not squaring with his likely private views on gay marriage.

There are countless Trenton Republicans who are in the same boat. And if Obama’s gonna get a backlash for being wishy-washy for political purposes, it’s our job to highlight GOP legislators who are in the same boat as the president. We need to make sure they feel the same burden, both politically and on their conscience.

So for the newly-minted Bergen County legislator who found herself in tears after voting AGAINST equality, the Constitution (and possibly even her own conscience) to service Chris Christie’s national ambitions; or the socially moderate GOP legislator from South Jersey who claims to love his gay friends but simply can not summon the balls political courage to vote against the Governor’s wishes because “(he) didn’t campaign on this issue”; or the Democrats who voted no in February (two in the Senate, four in the Assembly); Or the or the legislators who simply didn’t vote last time; and finally any politicians sworn in since that vote (Gabby Mosquera comes to mind) to win an override WE NEED THEM ALL.

Obama’s “evolution” on marriage equality is about having it both ways. Chris Christie’s anti-equality views come part-and-parcel for any rising GOP star with national aspirations. And both men would likely take a different (more pro-equality) view if they felt they could.

“To win an override we will take the time we need assisted by a changing world.”

Steven’s recent email suggests that time may be sooner than later so let’s discuss how the progressive community can use this issue to extract maximum political tariff on any and all members of the GOP who are caught between a rock (blind allegiance to Christie’s desire to court the wingnut vote in the future) and the hard place of rapidly changing public opinion.

According my my math, we must convert 3 Senators and 12 Assemblymembers for the over-ride to work thus giving New Jersey gays and lesbians equal marriage equality. It’s an ambitions and worthy goal. So how can we make the fight — win or lose — as politically advantageous to our side and possible? Legends

Photo: the author with (supposedly) pro-gay Republican Mary Pat Angelini.

Comments (9)

  1. Jay Lassiter (Post author)

    ….is dedicated to Lt. Governor Kim Guadago. Just ‘cuz.  

  2. Bertin Lefkovic

    They are smart enough to recognize that the primary election in this district is going to determine who will represent it.  While a district like LD16 has clearly become more competitive, a “quasi-moderate” Republican State Senator like Kip Bateman still has more to worry about from a batshitcrazy teabagging wingnut primary challenger than he does from whomever might challenge him in 2013 or 2017.

    If pro-marriage equality forces want to be able to get Republican votes, the first thing that they have to be willing to do is commit to protecting pro-marriage equality Republicans from batshitcrazy teabagging wingnut primary challengers.  In my opinion, the best way to do that is to get registered Democrats to sign petitions that state that if the Republican legislator in question votes for marriage equality, the undersigned registered Democrats will change their party affiliation to Republican and vote for her/him in Republican primary elections.

    Obviously, these legislators would be on their own for the general election, but aside from LD2, LD7, LD11, and LD16, I am not aware of any Republican legislators, particularly someone who is willing to vote for marriage equality, who is at risk of losing in a general election.

    Aside from this, I think that the best chance of overriding Christie’s veto will be during next year’s lame duck session IF we are able to defeat him next November, but once that happens, an override vote could be moot unless the incoming Democratic administration would prefer to have this issue resplved once and for all before it takes office.

  3. deciminyan

    Back in February, I asked Assemblyman Gusciora about where Gabby Mosquera stands on ME. Here’s his answer.

  4. Jeff Gardner

    The target universe for the override vote is set, i.e. the sitting legislature. But there is 1 legislative vote that we can directly impact this November in the special election in LD-16 – a unique opportunity this presidential year.

    Marie Corfield for Assembly!

  5. Janice Rael

    We all have to work together on this to make sure that New Jersey doesn’t become North Carolina. Our citizens expect equal rights under the law, and we must focus on swinging the votes toward fairness and equality.

    Besides, think of the sudden cash flow to NJ vacation destinations by newlywed couples, as soon as all couples can legally marry in NJ!

  6. denniscmcgrath

    Breaking News Alert

    The New York Times

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012 — 3:10 PM EDT


    Obama Tells ABC News Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

    Read More:



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