The battle for marriage equality is heating up again in New Jersey. A coalition of national groups are pooling their efforts to get the state to formally approve marriage equality, which a majority of residents already support. Joining in the push are the American Unity Fund, the Gill Action Fund, Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal, along with Garden State Equality and the ACLU of New Jersey. The groups are counting on financial backing from the same Wall Street types who were successful in getting New York to pass its marriage equality law.
The “New Jersey United For Marriage” campaign will focus on overriding Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill that passed last year. To do that, equality supporters will have to peel away three state senators and 12 assembly members and get them to change their votes. Supporters are counting on legislators to reconsider because of the changed landscape as a result of the Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality.
The campaign promises to run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. ”We will make sure things will be well-funded, and they will be well-funded in New Jersey,” said David Tepper, a hedge-fund manager, told The Wall Street Journal.
The biggest hurdle to overcome is Christie. It’s fair to say that Christie is the sole reason why marriage equality isn’t the law in the state. When he vetoed the marriage equality bill passed by the state legislature, he said he didn’t think “121 people in Trenton” should make that decision. (So much for supporting our representative form of democracy.) In what looked like an effort to bolster his credentials with the right, Christie called the Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA “judicial supremacy.”
Yet Christie can only hold the line against marriage equality for so long. New Jersey residents support marriage equality at a higher rate than any other state where it is currently not legal. Ultimately, he’s playing a losing game. One sign is the presence in the battle of the American Unity Fund, which is a GOP-led group with deep pockets, or exactly the type of folks Christie would otherwise be cultivating. In the meantime, though, expect a high-profile, pricey campaign that will pit Christie against the wishes of the majority of resident in his state.