The governor’s plan is not serious. It is a political dodge. He is trying to provide a safe haven to shelter his obedient Republican legislators. The idea is they could safely vote against gay marriage, saying they only want the people to decide.
Imagine how different American history would be if this rule by referendums had carried the day from the start.
Take race relations. If Southern states could have held a referendum on free speech rights for Martin Luther King Jr., can anyone doubt how it would have turned out? How long would it have taken for voters in Mississippi to integrate its public schools?
Gallup has traced attitudes toward interracial marriage for decades. Note that when the Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s ban in 1967, fewer than 1 in 5 Americans supported the court’s position. If Christie’s philosophy had carried the day, the ban would have remained in place until the late 1990s.
The point is that minority rights should not be subjected to majority vote. That misses the gist of constitutional rights.