GARDEN STATE VARIETY

Gay NJ Assemblyman Makes U-Turn On Marriage-Equality Referendum

reed Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, New Jersey’s first openly gay lawmaker, was originally opposed to putting same-sex marriage to a public referendum. In fact, his comparison of a marriage-equality vote to a vote on desegregation got Gov. Chris Christie to calll Gusciora “numb nuts.”

But Gusciora, 52, has read the tea leaves—and seen the recent victories in Maine, Maryland and Washington—and now he endorses putting the issue on the ballot: Acknowledging Christie would likely block any efforts that came through the State House, Guscoria tells the AP, “at this point, we have no other choice.”

But LGBT advocacy groups don’t agree that a ballot question is the way to go:  “[it’s a] very expensive, difficult, divisive process that no state should wish upon itself,” says Freedom to Marry director Evan Wolfson, adding that “it’s no more a good idea to put these couples’ freedom to marry up to a majority vote than it was to put a woman’s right up to vote.”

What other way is there? To overturn Christie’s veto of the Legislature-approved marriage bill from February, supporters need a two-thirds majority in both houses—which means they’d have to switch the vote of some 14 lawmakers.

As for the courthouse route, a 2011 case before the State Supreme Court, in which seven same-sex couples claimed civil unions are not equal to full marriage, is still pending. But Christie has made several appointment in recent years, which could stack the bench against us.

Is Gusciora making the right call, or is it too soon to rally the troops for another gay-marriage battle at the polling booth? Vote with your words in the comments section below!