Marriage equality: Christie mum, Norcross mulling, Doherty makes ballot case

TRENTON – In response to the Democratic push for marriage equality, Gov. Chris Christie said yesterday that he has his own initiatives to think about. “They have a right to set their agenda,” he said, and “I’ll set mine.”

Christie has indicated consistently over his political career his preference for traditional marriage, not same-sex marriage. The Democrats intend to make Christie act on the bill; vote tallies in both chambers seem to be approaching 21 and 41.

In a headcount in the Senate, State Street Wire narrowed down the likely 21st vote to state Sens. Fred Madden, (D-4), Washington Township, and Shirley Turner, (D-15), Lawrenceville. Another name to add: state Sen. Donald Norcross, (D-5), Camden.

Madden and Turner did not answer another round of calls yesterday, and Norcross also seems to be lying low for now. He was not immediately available to speak about his vote yesterday.

But Christie is still waiting at the end of this road with veto pen in hand. “When forced to make a decision – if forced to make a decision – I’ll make a decision,” he said yesterday.

Already opposed, state Sen. Mike Doherty, (R-23), Washington Township, wants this issue on the ballot so voters can decide.

“We should get this on the ballot,” he said yesterday. “I’d like to see it settled.”

Doherty said that Christie is likely to veto, so supporters should take the question directly to the voters.

“Then you don’t need to have Gov. Christie sign it,” he said.

He has offered to marriage equality supporters like Garden State Equality chair Steven Goldstein and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, (D-15), Trenton, to have a third-party arbitrator intervene with the ballot question wording.

“I think that’s the solution here,” he said, otherwise, passing it into certain veto would just be “all about politics.”

“Then they can constantly beat the governor over the head on this,” he said. “Settle this once and for all…And then we can move onto more important issues.”

One of the prime sponsors, state Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, told State Street Wire this week that civil rights are not ballot initiatives. He said allowing the masses to determine the rights of minorities – whether it be minorities of race, minorities of creed, or minorities of sexual orientation – is unfair, imperfect, and inhumane. Lesniak said it is the duty of elected officials to protect minorities, not the people at large.

Sources also told State Street Wire that politicians are wary of placing ballot questions, especially contentious topics like marriage equality, in the middle of elections unless they know what the outcome will be and how turnout for and against the question would effect elected officials with their names on the ballot.

Doherty has his own explanation: “And some people may be afraid that they may not win.”

“Bring on the day of reckoning,” Doherty said. “Then it doesn’t matter what Chris Christie wants.”

Marriage equality: Christie mum, Norcross mulling, Doherty makes ballot case