Democrats in the Legislature have said they want to make the Marriage Equality Act a priority, despite Gov. Chris Christie saying he will veto the bill should it reach his desk. Instead, Christie said he wants to put the issue on a referendum for New Jersey voters to decide. Proponents of same sex marriage have said marriage equality is a civil rights issue that shouldn’t be left to a public vote. New Jersey Catholic Conference Executive Director Patrick Brannigan, who sat down with NJToday Managing Editor Mike Schneider, said same sex marriage is not a civil rights issue and that government does not have the right to redefine marriage.
Brannigan said while everyone has the right to marry, marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Brannigan said the state’s option of civil unions gives all the benefits of marriage to same sex couples. “It’s not discrimination to describe different things as different,” said Brannigan.
Advocates of the Marriage Equality Act have said civil unions don’t offer the same status as marriage. But Brannigan countered there have only been 13 complaints to the Division on Civil Rights.
Brannigan said the Catholic Church has taught that marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of the family, which in turn is the foundation of society. His position is that government doesn’t have the right to redefine marriage. While he said he believes a public vote would favor the traditional definition of marriage, he doesn’t believe the citizens or government should be able to change the definition which he said is determined by natural law.