Governor Chris Christie wants the people of New Jersey to decide whether or not they support gay marriage. He made this stunning announcement at a press event shortly after a town hall meeting in Bridgewater this morning.
He urged the legislature, including Republicans, to support a bill that would put the question on the November ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment. That would ensure that groups for and against the controversial issue will get a chance to make their case to the people, according to Christie.
The Governor’s call for a referendum comes on the same day a Senate committee is considering a gay marriage bill. Democratic leaders have made this issue a priority even though the Governor made it clear again today he will veto the gay marriage bill if it comes to his desk.
Despite his support for a statewide referendum, Christie says he still believes marriage should be between a man and woman. He favors civil unions and says he’ll work with gay rights advocates to help strengthen the law which critics claim doesn’t grant same-sex couples the same rights and benefits as heterosexual married couples. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed 52 percent of New Jersey respondents support the right of same-sex couples to marry. That poll could be put to the ultimate test if there’s a referendum in November.
NJToday‘s Desiree Taylor reports from Bridgewater.
The same day the governor was making his announcement, the state Senate was holding a hearing about the marriage equality bill. Democrats favor passing the bill in the Legislature while several Republicans said they wanted the issue put on the ballot for voters to decide. The committee passed the bill in a party line vote 8-4. It will now go to the full Senate for a vote.
NJToday‘s Michael Aron reports from the Statehouse in Trenton.