Monday, December 7, 2009

Gay Marriage in the Garden State

With the clock ticking on outgoing governor Jon Corzine's term of office, the New Jersey state legislature is poised to vote on a bill legalizing gay marriage in the state and sending to Corzine for his signature before the state's incoming governor, noted reckless driver Chris Christie, takes over. Our redundantly named Republican governor-elect opposes the bill, so lawmakers who support gay marriage and their allies are working feverishly to get it passed. the bill is under debate in the state Senate.

The usual suspects were in Trenton speaking out on it - civil rights activists for it, religious groups largely against it. State senator Loretta Weinberg, a Bergen County Democrat and the losing candidate for the new lieutenant governor's office, spoke out passionately in favor of the legislation so that all New Jerseyans are free to live with the ones they love "in peace and security." It's not a partisan issue, either - Bill Baroni, a Republican state senator from Mercer County, also supports the bill. The Assembly has yet to act.

New Jersey already has come a longer way on the subject of gay marriage and civil unions than its neighbor, New York. The Empire State, despite its large gay population, defeated a gay marriage bill in the state Senate after it passed in the Assembly. (New York and New Jersey both call the lower houses of their legislatures the Assembly.) New Jersey - boring, suburban, "mainstream" New Jersey - is considered to be ahead of "progressive, intellectual" New York (not to mention "laid-back" California) in providing civil rights to gays. civil unions have been legal in the Garden State for a few years now.

I support gay marriage, even though I'm not gay and I'm not married. The question here is not just whether this state has the political will to legalize it but the expediency to do so. Corzine is in office for only another month, and the lame-duck legislative session is almost over.

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