A Time To Call for an M. E. Ballot Vote Or A Time To Override a Veto?

A Star-Ledger editorial today says, “It is time to call Gov. Chris Christie’s bluff on gay rights. He vetoed a bill on marriage equality earlier this year, denying a basic human right to thousands of New Jersey couples and their children with a stroke of his pen. it’s time for the Legislature to make its move and put the question on the ballot in 2013.”

I don’t think that a civil rights matter like marriage equality should be a ballot issue. However if there were an ideal time to put the matter to popular vote it would have been during the just concluded elections when in NJ President Obama beat Mitt Romney by 16.9 points, U. S. Sen. Robert Menendez beat State Sen. Joe Kyrillos by 18.5 points, and when  M. E. opponent Christie spent so much time out of state. For the matter to be on the ballot next year without a presidential or senatorial election would be less than ideal. Presumably Christie will then be in high-gear campaign mode, speak out against M. E., and not want the embarrassment of having M. E. approved under his watch.

The need now is to get sufficient votes in the Senate and Assembly to overturn Christie’s veto. The Senate passed the measure 24-16 with two Republican votes, Sen. Jennifer Beck (Monmouth) and Sen. Diane Allen (Burlington) in support and with two Democrats, Sen. Ronald Rice (Essex) and Sen. Jeff Van Drew (Cape May) in opposition. The Senate needs 27 votes to override the Governor. The Assembly passed the measure 42-33 with no Republican votes and with two Democrats, Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam, both from Cape May, who voted against the measure. The Assembly needs 54 votes to override the veto.

It is up to legislative leadership and advocates to convince a few Republican Senators and Assemblypersons, as well as recalcitrant Democrat nay-sayers, to join the effort. The Senate may already have the needed votes, but there is less certainty in the Assembly. The legislature has until early January 2014 to gain needed support and to schedule a veto override vote. It is also  possible that by then or shortly thereafter the New Jersey Supreme Court may rule favorably on the matter. Efforts now at both a legislative override and a favorable NJ Supreme Court ruling are being pursued. It’s not the time now to call for a public ballot vote.

Comments (10)

  1. deciminyan

    I believe Democrat Gary Schaer also voted no.

  2. Cautious Man

    Everyone, every paper, every person in favor of marriage equality, needs to tell Governor Christie to “man up”.  

    Our governor should talk to his new BFF, re-elected President Obama, and then say that he’s changed his mind, and will sign the very well-crafted bill for marriage equality.

    If we have a constitutional amendment vote, we will have to suffer through a lot of hateful advertising, and I, for one, don’t want my gay friends to have to suffer through that kind of nonsense.

  3. Jay Lassiter

    ….like ALL options should be on the table.  

  4. Nick Lento

    …ballot measure to pass are increasing.

    Marriage equality has become a mainstream position.

    But Christie should be forced to veto a ME bill first.  The more light shed on this issue the better!

    It all comes down to common human decency.  Why does Christie have a problem with that?

  5. Senator Loretta Weinberg

    and I still do not believe civil rights belong on the ballot. Because there is an ever “evolving” movement toward support for marriage equality, we in the legislature, and the advocates must concentrate on getting 27 votes in the Senate and 54 votes in the Assembly to override the Governor’s veto. We have until January of 2014 to post the veto for an override. Let’s get all those “supportive” folks to start clamoring for the legislature to override the veto!

  6. Babs NJSD

    The legislature came up with Civil Unions and a Commission to review the effectiveness and aptness of the institution of those civil unions as equal to marriage. The report of the Commission was clear that Civil Unions did not work and were NOT in fact equal to marriage.

    The Legislature then went back and eventually came up with full marriage equality. The Governor, by vetoing the action of the legislature violated the order of the NJ State Supreme Court and in my mind by his action logically, and I’m not a lawyer, should be found in contempt of the NJ Supreme Court!

    So… what say you legal eagles?  

    Does logic and common sense have any basis or standing in NJ law or am I somewhere in left field?

  7. Bill Orr (Post author)

    A petition was launched without success so far to get Christie to reconsider his conditional veto. Unfortunately, he seems to be staunchly supporting his proposal for a public ballot.

    Legislative regs do not seem to address the process of a governor rescinding a veto. Am not aware of a New Jersey governor ever doing so, but it might be a simple process. One can only hope.

  8. Bill Orr (Post author)

    It was not reported in the Star-Ledger article, but was recorded in the legislature web siite Assembly roll call.  

  9. deciminyan
  10. Bertin Lefkovic

    In return for Republican votes in favor of an override of Christie’s veto of marriage equality legislation, Democrats should agree to give Christie his tax cuts.


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