In the upcoming legislative session, New Jersey will join Maryland and Washington State as states with Catholic governors who are considering marriage equality bills. While the Catholic governors of Maryland and Washington support marriage equality, New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, does not.
The NBC affiliate in New York reported the news of the introduction of New Jersey’s bill, and noted the promise of legislative support, but that Christie has the opportunity to veto it:
” ‘The world has changed since 2009 when the bill last came up,’ said Steven Goldstein, who heads the gay rights group Garden State Equality. ‘I don’t think anyone has seen a civil rights movement accelerate so quickly.’
“Democrats said they are confident they have enough votes to advance the bill but can’t do it by veto-proof majorities without some Republican support. It’s likely to die with the Republican governor. However, Christie also could ignore the bill if it reaches his desk, and it would become law in 45 days without his signature.
“Goldstein said he doesn’t believe there are any circumstances under which Christie, a national GOP figure who is often talked about as a future presidential prospect, would sign a gay marriage bill.”
New Jersey currently has a law allowing civil unions, and a court decision about whether that law supports full equality may be the way that marriage equality comes to the state. NBC reports:
“A Superior Court judge ruled in November that a suit filed by gay couples to force the state to recognize same-sex marriage can go forward, setting up a trial on the issue five years after the state Supreme court stopped short of allowing same-sex nuptials.”
New Jersey has its work cut out for it to achieve marriage equality. With Catholics making up 37% of the population, the largest religious denomination in the state, faith will certainly play a role in whether or not the bill passes. Catholics who support marriage equality as a justice issue need to let their voices be heard.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry