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No Common Ground for Christie and Buono on Social Issues, Policies

“This is a human rights issue,” Buono said. “This governor equates it with guns and taxes.”

Christie last August signed a ban on gay conversion therapy, stating he had mixed feelings about it but that he believed it “can pose critical health risks” for children. Buono was a co-sponsor of the bill.

Christie and Buono are also diametrically opposed on the issue of abortion. Buono is pro-choice. Christie has said in interviews and on his 2009 campaign site that he was pro-choice until he heard the heartbeat of his daughter when his wife was 13 weeks pregnant. He has said he is now pro-life, but supports exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. On his 2009 campaign site, though, he issued a somewhat stronger pro-life statement, saying, “We must work to reduce abortions in New Jersey through laws such as parental notification, a 24-hour waiting period and a ban on partial birth abortion.”

Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, which works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to office and endorsed Buono, blasted Christie’s anti-choice positions, saying his “record is right wing and indefensible.”

New Jersey Right to Life has endorsed Christie, praising him for a number of recent actions, including his vetoes of bills that would have provided Medicaid coverage for family-planning services to those whose incomes are less than twice the federal poverty level (A-4171) and restored the $7.5 million for family planning services grants the governor had cut previously from the budget (S-2825). NJ Right to Life said those bills would have provided “a huge financial boondoggle to the nation’s largest abortion provider . . . Planned Parenthood.”

Christie has increased the reimbursement to Federally Qualified Health Centers to an all-time high, according to Roberts, and the number of women served at the centers has risen by nearly half since 2008.

Buono has used Christie’s position on abortion to bolster her argument that she is better on women’s issues than the governor. Her position paper on these issues is available online.

As more proof of this, she cites Christie’s veto of a bill (A-2649) that sought to require state contractors to give the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development information about the gender, race, job, and compensation for every employee working on the contract. Buono voted for the bill.

In his veto message, Christie said the bill would “do nothing to tangibly improve pay disparity” but would instead “burden countless employers with onerous reporting requirements, thereby driving up the cost of public contracts, which are ultimately shouldered by the taxpayer.”

Christie also conditionally vetoed a bill (A-2650) that would have brought the state into line with the pay discrimination protections in the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 because, unlike the federal law, the state law would have no statute of limitations. He suggested the Assembly bill be changed to mirror the federal law, which he supports. Lawmakers did not concur.

They did support his conditional veto of a bill (A-2648) extending the protections of the whistleblower law to protect from retaliation any employee who discloses pay information based on a reasonable belief that a discriminatory pay practice is occurring. And Christie outright signed a fourth, related bill (A-2647), which requires all employers advise workers of their right to be free from pay discrimination.

The New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce supported the vetoes, saying the bills were duplicative, “imposed new and onerous administrative requirements on employers and exposed them to unnecessary litigation and new penalties,” as well as possibly leading to violations of employees’ privacy.

But EMILY’s List criticized Christie’s veto of equal-pay legislation. Noting that Christie’s veto of pay transparency bill said it would have created a “senseless bureaucracy,” Marcy Stech, the group’s national press secretary, said, “What’s senseless is focusing on building a national reputation as champion of anti-women policies for himself at the expense of the New Jersey women and working families losing billions each year because of the wage gap.”

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