Christie’s Civil Rights Crossroads

President Obama’s amazing inaugural address let at least one genie out of the bottle, never to be put back. His alliterative juxtaposition of Selma, Seneca Falls, and Stonewall put the LGBT struggle for civil rights front and center. Regardless of how long it takes (after all, if you think the struggle for African-American rights is “won”, take a look at the statistics of poverty and incarceration), President Obama put the emphasis on gay rights as the civil rights battle of the twenty-first century.

Now it’s time for Chris Christie to do the same. As a member of the minority of sane and rational members of his party, the Governor needs to “evolve” and allow marriage equality to become the inevitable norm that it will be here in New Jersey.

When he vetoed the marriage equality bill, the Governor asserted that same-sex marriage was against his personal beliefs. That’s fine. He does not have to marry another man. But personal beliefs do not trump civil rights. He has no right to deny equal rights to two people who love each other.

The marriage equality bill that was passed last February is in limbo. The legislature has until January 2014 to override the governor’s veto. It will take several Republican votes in each chamber to override, but for now, the GOP members are under strict orders from the governor not to support equal rights. Christie can show courage and leadership by releasing his hold on his GOP minions and allowing them to vote their conscience. If he does so, it will make New Jersey one of the leaders instead of one of the laggards in the civil rights movement of our time.

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