The two contenders for governor of New Jersey who will go head to head in November, have vastly opposing views on same-sex marriage, an issue that could play an important role in the election.
Chris Christie, who won the primary election earlier this month to become the Republican nominee for governor of the Garden State, details his opposition to marriage equality on his campaign Web site.
“I believe marriage should be exclusively between one man and one woman,” it states. “While I have no issue with same-sex couples sharing contractual rights, I believe that marriage should remain the exclusive domain of one man and one woman.”
Christie goes on to say that he would veto a marriage-equality bill if it were to come to his desk.
He said if the state’s current marriage laws were changed through the court system, he would be in favor of a “constitutional amendment on the ballot so that voters, not judges, would decide this important social question.”
Christie did not respond to numerous requests for comment.
Incumbent Democratic candidate Jon Corzine, however, is a strong proponent of marriage equality.
Corzine spokesperson Robert Coralles reiterated the governor’s support to PGN this week.
“The governor has said he supports same-sex marriage and would sign a bill if it reaches his desk,” Corrales said. “The legislation would first have to pass in both respective houses, but if the bill comes to his desk, he would sign it.”
Marriage-equality bills are currently in committee in both the New Jersey Senate and Assembly.
Both versions of the bill were introduced last June and sent to the judiciary committees of their respective chambers.
The Assembly legislation has 12 cosponsors, while the Senate bill has six.
Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality, said he anticipates movement on the bills by the end of the year.
“We expect a vote on the marriage-equality bill in 2009, which includes the post-general-election period between now and December,” Goldstein said.
On June 16, the Maplewood Township Committee became the first municipal governing body in the state to pass a resolution urging the legislature to legalize same-sex marriage.
The resolution passed unanimously, supported by committeemembers Mayor Victor DeLuca, Lester Lewis-Powder, Kathleen Leventhal, Jerry Ryan and Fred R. Profeta Jr., who introduced the measure.
DeLuca said the committee pursued the issue because it’s a “matter of basic civil rights.”
“We represent everyone in our community, and there is a portion of people in our community that are right now being denied their rights,” DeLuca said. “We think it’s important as public officials to speak out, urging the legislature to correct that glaring inequity.”
DeLuca also noted the issue of same-sex marriage has been prominent in the news lately and is sure to make an appearance in the New Jersey governor’s race, and the committee felt “this is a time when this is being talked about more and more, and we thought that we ought to express our opinion.”
DeLuca said the committee has received little opposition from the public and has already been contacted by the mayor of South Orange, N.J., who was looking to pose the resolution to that town’s governing council. DeLuca said he’s also planning to forward the resolution to the New Jersey Conference of Mayors to heighten visibility and encourage other municipalities to take similar action.
New Jersey legalized civil unions for same-sex couples in 2006, but a state commission released a report last year that recommended the state extend its marriage laws to include LGBT couples.
A Quinnipiac University poll released in April found that 49 percent of New Jersey residents favored marriage equality, while 43 percent were opposed.