Assemblyman Gusciora recently proposed a referendum on marriage and various marriage activists are now re-debating this question.
A vote on equality is a bad idea for political and practical reasons. Leave aside the issue of allowing for a vote on a civil right. I think that’s a bad thing, but if it were only a theoretical argument over principle, I could be persuaded to do something that got to the desired outcome. But this is not merely a theoretical issue of principle. A ballot initiative on marriage has 3 major pitfalls.
1. It will bring in tens of millions of conservative and anti-marriage media, staff and organizing dollars during the 2013 election during not only a governor’s race, but when the entire legislature is up for election.
2. It will bring this money in and bring out a right wing vote, at the very same time we are likely to have the Minimum Wage on the ballot – thus risking not only the Marriage Equality vote, but also risking the vote on the Minimum Wage. People who try to survive on wages of $7.25 suffer fundamental injustice and the cause of justice for them should not be sacrificed on the unlikely chance or correcting injustice for others.
3. It entirely shifts the focus from Christie’s veto of Marriage Equality and instead of the election being a referendum (in part) on the Governor’s bigotry in vetoing Marriage, it is a referendum on our side’s ability to overcome right wing corporate money. Worse yet, it permits every Republican in the New Jersey Legislature to vote Yes to allow the Referendum, when they voted No on Marriage. (No wonder they want us to do this!)
There is a plan. The organizing work in this State and throughout the country is working. We will win in court, or we will override the Governor’s veto, or we will win with a new Governor.
The arc of moral universe is long – but yes – it bends toward justice! We will win this fight, as we have won past fights.
There is something we should use the ballot box for, however. We must reward our friends and punish our enemies by only electing true champions of justice, fairness and equality in 2013. The truth is, there is someone who is responsible for there not being equality in this State and that is the same person who is responsible for New Jersey having the 47th highest unemployment rate and New Jersey eliminating school breakfast for poor kids and New Jersey cutting women’s healthcare. That person is Chris Christie and he should be the focus of the 2013 election.