Legislative leaders from both sides of aisle back Christie on ending gay marriage fight

TRENTON – As expected, key Democratic lawmakers expressed support for today’s end to same-sex marriage legal battles.

May not so expected were statements of support that came from the other side of the aisle as well.

But the governor’s decision to stop fighting gay marriage in court may have opened the gates now for Republicans in the Legislature to hop on board without risk of angering the front office.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick issued a supportive statement this morning after the administration’s decision to withdraw legal challenges was announced earlier today.

“The court’s decision allowing same-sex couples to marry is final,” Bramnick said.

“This has been a long struggle where both sides have strong feelings, but the matter is settled.  I wish success to all couples being married under the new law.”

Republicans had been saying for some time that the matter should go before the voters, something Senate Democratic leadership had opposed.

But it is not common for GOP legislators to issue statements in contrast to the governor’s public stances. 

However, the gay marriage question already had drawn some divides.  GOP lawmakers such as Assembly members Holly Schepisi and Declan O’Scanlon had already gone on record in favor of allowing same-sex marriage.

Democratic lawmakers issued statements of support as well today.

Sens. Steve Sweeney, Ray Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg issued a joint comment:

“We have said all along that our State gains nothing by wasting funds to defend an unconstitutional ban on marriage equality. The State’s formal opposition in Garden State Equality v. Dow served nothing more than to deny New Jerseyans of federal marital rights. 

“This is a victory for dozens of loving same-sex couples that wed this morning across this state and for thousands more that will marry in the years to come. New Jersey is now a state that grants equality to all committed families and we are a better state for it.”

And Speaker Sheila Oliver earlier had said: “This will long be remembered as a great day for equality in New Jersey.

“I have long urged Gov. Christie to drop his fight against civil rights, so I am pleased he has done so, even if he continues to emphasize how he disagrees with the idea of equal treatment under the law.

“New Jersey has many reasons to rejoice today. All of our residents will now be treated the same when it comes to the rights and benefits of marriage, and taxpayer resources will no longer be spent trying to stop them from being treated equally.

“History is unfolding before our eyes. This is cause for celebration.”

Legislative leaders from both sides of aisle back Christie on ending gay marriage fight