TRENTON – Gov. Christie wants to create a position of Ombudsman for Civil Unions.
In his conditional veto of the same-sex marriage law, he said in a statement:
“Today, I am adhering to what I’ve said since this bill was first introduced – an issue of this magnitude and importance, which requires a constitutional amendment, should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide.
“I continue to encourage the Legislature to trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing our citizens to vote on a question that represents a profoundly significant societal change. This is the only path to amend our State Constitution and the best way to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in our state.
“I have been just as adamant that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples – as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits. Discrimination should not be tolerated and any complaint alleging a violation of a citizen’s right should be investigated and, if appropriate, remedied.
“To that end, I include in my conditional veto the creation of a strong Ombudsman for Civil Unions to carry on New Jersey’s strong tradition of tolerance and fairness. The Ombudsman will be charged with increasing awareness of the law regarding civil unions, will provide a clear point of contact for those who have questions or concerns and will be required to report any evidence of the law being violated. In this way, we can ensure equal treatment under the law.”
Advocates of the bill, however, were unimpressed by the governor’s suggestion, saying the ombudsmen would do little to fix the fatally flawed civil union law. The ombudsman would be useless, advocates of same sex marriage say, in places like New York, which recognizes same sex marriage and in New Jersey, where hospitals and employers understand the civil union law, but choose to ignore it.
“A civil union ombudsman might well be the country’s first-ever Enforcer of Discrimination – and worse,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality. “A civil union ombudsman is nothing more than the shameless dressing up of a veto of people’s dignity and equality – the equivalent of gold-plating a separate water fountain for a specific class of people.”