TRENTON – Apparently, the long weekend was not enough to put the emotional issue of gay marriage to bed.
Two days after Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would recognize same sex marriage, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) of West Deptford and Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) of Westfield, debated the issue in a CNN interview segment with weekend correspondent Fredricka Whitfield.
Sweeney blasted the Republicans’ insistence on having the voters decide in a referendum whether the state Constitution should be amended to allow marriage between same-sex couples. The history of such referendums has been unfavorable on the same-sex marriage issue.
“It’s a cop out to try to do it the way they’re talking about. It’s absolutely wrong,” he said. “This does not belong on the ballot. We got elected to make decisions, and this is a decision that we have to make.”
Bramnick, however, disagreed that same-sex marriage rises to the level of civil rights.
“It’s an issue. It’s not a civil rights issue,” he said. “And you can see that by Democrats and Republicans both having the same view, at least some of them, on this issue.”
Bramnick pointed out that Sweeney initially didn’t vote for the gay marriage bill a couple of years ago.
“The governor is a thousand percent wrong,” Sweeney said.
He added that the Republican lawmakers are still afraid of voting differently from Christie’s preferences, which is why a referendum is being called for.
“If he would allow the Republicans in the Legislature to vote their conscience, there wouldn’t be any question,” he said. “There would be an easy override.”
All but two Republicans in the Senate – Sen. Jennifer Beck and Sen. Diane Allen – voted against the S1 bill. No Republicans who were present at the Assembly session Thursday voted in favor of the same sex marriage bill.
Bramnick had earlier in the week pointed out that the Democratic-run Legislature failed to address the pressing issues of the state that affect just about all the residents, such as the 10 percent income tax cut proposed by Christie over a three-year period, which will undoubtedly be mentioned in his budget address Tuesday.