TRENTON – Reaction to the governor’s conditional veto of the Marriage Equality law was swift from Democrats.
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald issued harsh criticism, saying Gov. Christie has violated his oath of office and is not defending the rights of all residents.
“Thousands and thousands of New Jersey families are denied financial security, health security and fundamental equal rights every day because of a failed civil union experiment,” Greenwald said in a statement he issued about why the Marriage Equality Act was necessary to replace the Civil Union law.
“Make no mistake about it – when Gov. Christie placed his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the constitutions of the United States and New Jersey, he swore also to support and defend the rights of every New Jersey citizen. He has just violated his own oath of office. And in the end, he will answer to every New Jersey citizen for his actions.”
Christie late this afternoon issued a conditional veto of same-sex marriage and called instead for creation of a post of Ombudsman.
Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a chief advocate of the bill, said though he likes the governor and does not believe Christie is anti-gay, he is disappointed in today’s action.
“Because I do know him, I also know he is not some anti-LGBT nut,” Goldstein said. “He is no Rick Santorum. Frankly, I don’t think Chris Christie has an anti-gay bone in his body, however much I cannot say the same about his impending veto. His veto will be a brutally anti-gay act, pure and simple.”
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, who issued an impassioned defense of the bill on the Assembly floor Thursday, was also harsh in her criticism.
“This has, and always will be, a civil rights issue,” Oliver said in a release. “When we look back in the annals of history, unfortunately, the governor will see that he was on the wrong side of justice. All the couples disappointed by his action today should take solace in the fact that we are not giving up this fight.”
Republicans who spoke out against the bill on the Assembly floor Thursday called for putting the issue to a vote as a referendum as Christie has called for.
Assemblyman Tim Eustace, (D-38), Paramus, who along with Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, (D-15), Trenton, is an openly gay state lawmaker, said: “The Governor’s conditional veto makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he does not think my family, and thousands of others, are equal in the eyes of the law.”
“The historic victory we achieved legislatively is bittersweet, but it will also spur advocates to continue to fight the good fight until true equality is achieved.”
And from the upper chamber, Senate President Steve Sweeney said: “Governor Christie’s veto is a shameful act hidden behind the guise of a public referendum. Today, he firmly planted his feet on the wrong side of history.
“He certainly does not deserve whatever credit he will probably receive for maintaining his misguided position. He had a chance to do the right thing, and failed miserably.”
Sweeney has said that his own decision not to support same-sex marriage the last time it was up for a legislative vote was the worst mistake of his career, and he had made passage of this bill a priority in the new legislative session.
And Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), Teaneck said, “We will work for an override confident in the knowledge we are doing the right thing and hopeful in the belief that legislators who voted ‘no’ will experience a change of conscience and vote to override the Governor. He can delay marriage equality in New Jersey, but he can’t stop it. Equal rights will be achieved with or without the Governor’s participation. With his conditional veto, the Governor has chosen to be nothing more than a negative footnote in the history of equal rights in New Jersey.”