By Quinn Wonderling
During today’s special “Brewing Together” edition of Morning Joe focusing on education reform, guests Michelle Rhee, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Gov. Chris Christie took questions from the audience in New Jersey’s Fort Lee High School gymnasium. Most of the Q&A participants asked about teacher evaluations, tax dollars, student opinion and unions, but one student touched on the increasingly visible problem of bullying within schools.
15-year-old Adrienne: Recently you passed an anti-bullying law, which I am appreciative of because bullying should not be allowed in the state of New Jersey, so I really thank you for that. However, one of the main reasons kids even do get bullied in school is whether or not they’re homosexual and recently there has been a bill to allow gay rights in the state of New Jersey. Can you tell me why…what was your decision to veto the bill?Christie: I did veto a bill on gay marriage, not on gay rights, and gay rights are protected aggressively in New Jersey. But listen, this is something I feel strongly about. I think marriage is between one man and one woman. But I also know that some people have very different opinions about that in our state, so what I’ve said to folks after vetoing the bill is, let’s put it on the ballot. If the majority of people in New Jersey want to have same-sex marriage, then vote for it and I’ll be governed by it. But I don’t think that’s a decision that should be made by 121 people in Trenton alone; it’s a major change in the way we’ve governed our society…Even though I feel one way about it I’m willing to be governed by the will of the people of New Jersey. So if the legislature is willing to put it on the ballot this fall during a presidential election when we have the most people voting than any four-year cycle, whatever the result is, I’ll be governed by it.
Gov. Christie vetoed a same-sex marriage bill last month that had passed both houses of legislature, and defended his decision on Morning Joe last week.
Meanwhile, a New Jersey grand jury is currently weighing one of the nation’s most widely publicized cases of cyber bullying in a school setting, that many are speculating was motivated by homophobia. Last September, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, 18, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Following his suicide, it came to light that his roommate, Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro, NJ, had been using a webcam to secretly watch Clementi’s intimate encounters with another man.
According to witness testimony given yesterday, Ravi was “uncomfortable” with the possibility that Clementi might be gay. Ravi is not being charged in Clementi’s death, but has been indicted on 15 counts, including invasion of privacy, bias, and tampering with evidence. He faces 10 years in prison.