NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney: “Don’t Put Civil Rights On The Ballot, Period.”

I do not believe you put civil rights on the ballot, period. It is the job of elected officials to ensure that everyone is provided equal protection and equal rights under the law. We should not hide from that responsibility. We should embrace it.”

New Jersey Senate President
Steve Sweeney, opposing Gov. Chris Christie‘s plan to get marriage equality put to a public referendum in the Garden State.

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  • 2eo

    It’s only a democracy if fundamentalist’s get what they want. Anything else and it is a Communist, Gay, muslim, Socialist, Unmarried etcetera hell hole.

  • 2eo

    It’s only a democracy if fundamentalist’s get what they want. Anything else and it is a Commun1st, Gay, musl1m, [email protected], Unmarried etcetera hell hole.

    Note: The mis-spelling is on purpose, my original comment with those words completed fell foul of the ridiculous censorship here.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Mr. Steve Sweeney, thanks for your courage to speak up.

  • bystander

    This is stupid, we won referendum in WA, ME, MN, and MD. Why shut the door on the only way we could get marriage equality in NJ?

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Every time our rights are put to a vote, it angers me that Americans are exerting this form of power over us. Our equality is not up for the whim of others. It is unconstitutional and illegal to subject us to such humiliating, degrading popularity contests.

  • the other Greg

    @bystander: You’re right, this will just DELAY it in NJ. This is a mantra that’s never made sense.

    The analogy would be with women getting the vote, which happened nationwide in 1920 but started happening state by state long before that, including in referendum votes – most notably in California in 1911. Suffragists didn’t go around saying, well, such things should “never” come to a public vote. (If they’d done that, they might still be waiting!) If it had gradually become thought of as a right, there was a practical recognition that the “founding fathers” had thought it natural for women to be denied the vote but that TIMES HAD CHANGED.

    It involved changing public opinion, not pretending that changing public opinion never has any effect on judges (which is ridiculous). The successful change in public opinion is happening anyway so why be afraid of it.

  • the other Greg

    (Part 2.) Here’s an extreme case. Suppose the U.S. Supreme Court in the current cases somehow comes up with some weird decision that it’s NOT a civil right at all, and bans it nationwide! What then? The only way then would be a constitutional amendment, rousing up enough public opinion state by state to get it passed.

    This fastidious objection – “rights shouldn’t be voted on” – puts a naive trust in the judiciary to always do the right thing. It puts an even more naive trust in state legislatures to do the right thing. How many Democrats in the NJ legislature are in thrall to the Catholic church, or being paid off? Similar to RI, where marriage is way ahead in public polls but for some *mysterious reason* the corrupt legislature never makes any headway with the issue.

    Sweeney is being pretty pompous and self-serving here as a legislator. He can say this but maybe next year they get distracted with other things and never get around to it.

  • kayakriver

    the fact is you don’t put the majority to vote for minority rights.

  • the other Greg

    @kayakriver: Congratulations on your appointment to the Supreme Court! Looks like you want to get rid of that initiative-referendum idea that the Progressive Party got going in the early 1900s.

    It’s ALWAYS a vote on minority rights. It’s just a matter of who’s doing the voting: whether it’s the judges, or the legislators, or the actual voters.

  • Alexa

    If something is a RIGHT, it doesn’t get to be voted on by the public.

  • the other Greg

    @Alexa: Congratulations on your appointment to the Supreme Court also!

    It may be a right now, but was it a right in 1960? In 1860? In 1776? And if you’re so sure it’s a right now, why can’t you get married??? :)

    Women in 1910-1920 didn’t think that supposedly “if something is a RIGHT, it doesn’t get to be voted on by the public.” They managed to make the case to 100% MALE electorates and they often won.

    This ridiculous objection never made much sense except as a euphemism for “We’re feeling unconfident and we’re too fucking lazy to make the case to the public, so hopefully the judges will do it.” It makes no sense at all in a place like New Jersey where the public is already on our side.

  • alterego1980

    I say, get it in where you can, when you can, however you can. Being a resident of NJ, I feel there’s a good chance that Christie will be the Governor here at least until 2016, if not longer. Being a liberal state you take your shot at the ballot box as soon as possible. Hey, if we can get 50.1 percent of the straight people to show up for us at the ballot box, that’s a bigger win in my mind than having the legislature do it.

  • doug105

    While I dont think it should be up for a vote either, we should get there anyway possible.
    And as an added bonus having it voted it will drive so many groups even more nuts.

  • doug105

    @1EqualityUSA: just so you know that link only opens your own email.

  • Will L

    @the other Greg: I agree with you.

    In theory, you shouldn’t have to vote on a right. But it’s only a right in retrospect. Right now, there are too many old-school politicians in office that consider it as sin, not a right. Taking a vote is the only way to convince politicians that it IS a right and people support it. Otherwise, they will try to convince everyone that it’s unpopular even if the majority actually support it. Without a vote, you can’t support that argument.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    doug105, thanks. Too much work, not enough sleep. I’m so tapped out tonight. Sorry.

Comments are closed.