New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D) on Monday introduced legislation to legalize same sex marriage in the state, but fellow Democrats have objected to the proposed bill.
Gusciora’s bill would place the issue on the next statewide ballot. Though he believes same sex marriage is a civil rights issue, the first openly gay member of the New Jersey Assembly told the Star-Ledger that “civil rights delayed is civil rights denied.”
“The timing is right. There is broader acceptance,” he added.
In February, Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation that would have granted same sex couples all the marriage rights afforded to heterosexual couples. The governor said the issue “should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide” by a statewide vote.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) opposes Gusciora’s bill, saying that civil rights issues should not be decided by a popular vote. He plans to override Christie’s veto.
Democrats need support from two-thirds of the Assembly and Senate to override the veto and Sweeney has vowed to change Republicans’ stance on the issue by the end of the current legislative session.
“I have firmly stated before and will say again now that I do not believe you put civil rights on the ballot, period,” Sweeney said in a statement. “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.”
[Image via Nikolai Alekseev, Creative Commons licensed]