As the New Jersey State Senate today debates same-sex marriage (UPDATE: Senate votes no 20-14), we’re learning very quickly who the terrible people sitting in elected office are. Among them? Republican Sen. Michael Doherty, who’s testifying now against the bill. “Suddenly today, there’s implications that you’re discriminating against folks when you want to maintain that defitintion. Somehow today, you’re crazy if you want the people of New Jersey to decide this issue like they have in 37 other states. [My constituents] are upset about being disenfranchised [about deciding major issues]. … They feel disenfranchised once again today. … This is about letting the residents of New Jersey decide a major re-definition that has been recognized for thousands and thousands of years. (Applause)”

Then there’s Sen. Sean Kean, who’s talking about how gays increase real estate value! “Someone told me today I have the gayest district in the state.” After “promising to keep an open mind,” however, he’s voting against it. “When you lay down at night and go to sleep, you take a heart check. … Some people characterized some of us who are opponents of this bill as blind sheep following some kind of a religious doctrine. I take offense to that too. Is religion a part of that decision marking process? Of course. … For those who characterize [opponents of the bill] of being afraid of political primaries … that is unacceptable to me.”

And that’s just a sampling.

And then there are folks like Democratic Sen. Nia Gil, who so eloquently points to a little thing known as Loving v. Virginia. “The definition of marriage has been delineated by color and by race, and the court found that to be a violation of the Equal Protection Caluse. And that is exactly what is happening now. Why does it matter? Because we have already state action. We are debating this issue as if we have no committed to a course of action. The civil union law says, and I quote, ‘The legislature has chosen to establish civil unions by amending the current marriage statute to include couples. In doing so, the legislature is counting a long-standing history of inequity by providing same-sex couples with the same rights and benefits as heterosexuals.’ So we inched into amending, and when I question representatives of the Catholic Church, they say they support civil unions, so we’re not here talking about an issue of morality. … So the issue of a cultural change … has already been sanctioned with the issue of domestic partnerships. … So that state action, once it creates an unequal situation, it violates the situation. So I don’t think, humbly, that we’re here debating in a vacuum. We have to look at what state action have we taken as a legislative body. That state action says the intent of civil unions is to give all benefits and privileges that heterosexual married couples have. … Just because it is not a racial injustice, it does not mean it is not a civil rights injustice. … This body cannot abdicate its responsibility once we have taken state action. That state action must be constitutional in its equal protection.”

(Rush transcript. Errors possible.)

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