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UPDATE! Wed May 9, 4:30pm
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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. Boston.com:
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?
Photo: the author with (supposedly) pro-gay Republican Mary Pat Angelini.