Christie Offers NJ Gays Separate-But-Equal Civil-Union Ombudsman Instead Of Marriage

Chris Christie went ahead and vetoed the marriage-equality bill that cleared the Legislature, but he tried to cover his prodigious posterior with a concession prize for Garden State gays: He would appoint an ombudsman to make sure civil unions were treated as equal to marriages, as is currently required by state law.

“Same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples – as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits,” Christie, a Republican, said in a statement. “Discrimination should not be tolerated and any complaint alleging a violation of a citizen’s right should be investigated and, if appropriate, remedied.”

Apparently Christie thinks appointing a point person on civil unions will make him look better, but its a foolish gambit: It won’t quell the anger felt by the LGBT community and its allies, and it will make him look soft on family values by the Republican base he’s obviously trying to court.

“It’s not equal, it’s not the same,” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester), told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He knows he’s wrong, he had to walk a tightrope. Why would you need an ombudsman when you had a bill that respected everyone’s rights?” Sweeney said Democrats are ignoring Christie’s proposal and going forward with plans to override his veto.

Garden State Equality director Steven Goldstein  called Christie’s offer “a joke.”

“A number of civil union couples work in New York, which doesn’t recognize civil unions, they recognize marriage,” he said in an interview. “Are they going to ask a New Jersey ombudsman to enforce the law in New York? That’s the biggest joke I ever heard…. The governor’s trying to have his cake and eat it too.”

Is that a slightly veiled fat joke? Seems like everyone’s decided the governor’s weight is fair game these days.

Photo: David Shankbone, Hoboken Condos