Voting on rights, from New Jersey to Maine

Voting on rights, from New Jersey to Maine
Voting on rights, from New Jersey to Maine
Governor Chris Christie photo

In New Jersey, lawmakers seem ready to send Governor Chris Christie a bill opening marriage for same-sex couples. Governor Christie says he would veto a bill. He wants lawmakers to send it out for a popular vote.

Just the other day, Governor Christie dispatched with 25 bills, signing most of them and vetoing the rest. When it comes to teh gay, he first wants to raise the bar and then send the minorities out to fend for themselves. From Bloomberg:

A proposed constitutional amendment would need to be approved by three-fifths of the Legislature to appear on the November ballot, and would then need support from a simple majority of voters for passage.

An amendment isn’t needed and won’t be supported by Democrats, because the constitution already guarantees equal rights for everyone, Lesniak said.

“We had a referendum on civil rights in the 1920s when the voters of this state voted against a woman’s right to vote,” said Lesniak, a Democrat from Elizabeth.

You can see why the Democrats don’t think much of voting on rights. In this case, if the legislation doesn’t gather three-fifths support, lawmakers would have to pass the marriage bill twice (pdf), in consecutive years, before they could then ask the majority to vote on the rights of the minority. Either way, Governor Christie would get to play the social conservative and punt the issue, both. (He promised today he would abide by the referendum results – hooray for the rule of law.)

Meanwhile in Maine, activists for marriage equality are about to announce their decision on whether to put a referendum on the ballot. The local press says they’re “likely” to go for it. Equality Maine has gathered about twice the signatures they would need to go for it. Putting the issue on the ballot would be a remarkable statement and a remarkable test of how much voter opinion has changed. In 2009, Mainers issued a people’s veto of a marriage-equality law passed by the state legislature 53-47. The presser’s tomorrow at noon.