Trenton’s Democrats Rooting Against Gay Marriage Bill

Yup. That’s not a typo, Save Jerseyans. It’s only the dirtiest little non-secret in Trenton.

You wouldn’t know it from reading their nauseatingly self-righteous press releases, but I assure you New Jersey’s leading Democrats are all-too-happy to sit back and watch Governor Christie veto S1 – the latest gay marriage or “marriage equality” legislation.

How else can you explain the strange, visceral reactions of Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) to the Governor’s alternative to gay marriage legislative fiat: a statewide ballot question.

It’s likely to pass. I know, because New Jersey Democrats keep telling me it would…

They point to polling results, such as the Quinnipiac University survey released last week, as conclusive evidence of growing support for gay marriage among state voters (52% to 42%). Granted, the prior Q survey just two months earlier found support upside down, with 46% in favor and 49% opposed. What happened over the last two months to affect this dramatic popular reversal is beyond me. I’m skeptical; maybe someone at the university realizes a positive poll for gay marriage activists makes for a sexier story?

What’s more, I’m personally not too keen on a referendum either, Save Jerseyans. Just for radically different reasons than the cowardly Trenton Democrats. It’s a topic for another post. In brief, I don’t believe my government is endowed with the authority to redefine marriage by any means or methodology; New Jersey should get out of the marriage business altogether before it contemplates arbitrarily redefining marriage. I wrote a lot about it the last time gay marriage was up. Check our archives for supplementary reading.

But at least a referendum would produce a consensus result, right? Given the choice, I’d definitely prefer the quasi-organic verdict of my fellow citizens and whatever consequences that decision would engender to the Democrat plan: 120 State House dwellers, most of whom are gerrymandered into election-proofed districts, passing judgment on the essence of an ancient and fundamental social institution!

So why won’t Senator Sweeney & Co. let us vote on it? Why must the march to gay marriage be a forced march rather than a public, popular affirmation?

This is power politics with people’s lives, folks. High stakes poker using human chips. Any analogy will do. Just know that leading Democrats want to score political points in 2012. Badly. And they’re willing to give thousands of gay New Jerseyans false hope to accomplish their ends.

Sinister? Cruel? Disrespectful? They all apply. Just consider the source to gain a deeper understanding.

Senate President Sweeney is hoping to win favor with liberal Democrats; otherwise, his new federal pac will turn out to be an exercise in futility. He had supported Governor Christie’s property tax initiative and pension reform program, managing to incur the anger of traditional liberals and labor unions in a short period of time. No small feat. Keep in mind he was already in the Democrat doghouse after abstaining (which is essentially a no vote) on gay marriage – and alienating legions of lefty voters in the process – back in 2010.

More generally, Sweeney’s caucus members and their Assembly colleagues need a way to rally dispirited  grassroots soldiers against a persistently popular governor. The gay marriage issue completely goes away if it succeeds on a ballot initiative. But if Governor Christie is forced to veto the legislation? Oh boy! Democrats will have won a fresh opportunity to villainize the Big Guy heading into his reelection year. The Governor’s appointment of the first openly-gay justice earlier this week was, at the most political basic level, a preemptive countermeasure.

Sweeney and Oliver’s political games are sinister precisely because their tactics invariably result in mass casualties. In this case, New Jersey gays and lesbians looking to marry won’t be any closer to their goal following a Christie veto. They’re more likely to win “equality” at the ballot box. But they won’t get a chance. Trenton Democrats won’t allow it.

The real question: what do Steve Sweeney and Sheila Oliver care? They’ll get exactly what they want when the gay marriage bill crashes and burns on Governor Christie’s desk.


109 thoughts on “Trenton’s Democrats Rooting Against Gay Marriage Bill

  1. Your post is clever but deceptive, Mr. Rooney.

    The onus is on Governor Christie to do the right thing and sign S1. How can you blame liberal legislators for his inaction?

  2. My post's point is narrowed to a single inquiry:

    IF Democrats want to pass gay marriage, and they have a better shot at the ballot box while Governor Christie remains in office, then why would they waste time on S1?

    This is pure political theater. Sweeney and his ilk are the deceptive ones. Not I!

  3. It is unfortunate thatvPeople play with others lives to curry favor with one voting bloc or another. This is clearly an attempt to be able to paint Christie and the November down ticket GOP as bigots/ homophobes. Why people can't see through the games is ridiculous. We have some of the worst public contracts, most costly services, poorest second amendment rights, & highest taxes in the nation and this game is how our Democrat leadership decides to spend its time.

  4. "The time for passage of this legislation is at hand. This is the ultimate teachable moment, because if we truly believe that all students should be treated equally, we must demonstrate through our actions that we will treat all adults equally."

    – NJEA President Barbara Keshishian

  5. I & R Christie always said he would let the voters decide ,perfect example our Democrats do not want to relinquish any power to the common folks ….nothing that a little tar and feathers would take care of

  6. Everyone keeps focusing on the Senate and Christie, but has anyone counted the votes in the Assembly? Has anyone even bothered to check if it can make it out of the Assembly? I don't think you can assume just because it makes it out of the Senate it makes it out of the Assembly. And if it doesn't, isn't Christie's stance on the legislation a moot point?

  7. Its very telling that not one gop senator is attacking this bill on substance. I guess we're giving up and accepting that its inevitable?

  8. I would bet anything that it makes it out of the assembly. Democrats are together on this issue now almost to the same extent that Rs seem unified in calling for the ballot initiative.

  9. Or perhaps some believe it's the right thing to do?

    Should proponents of small government simultaneously argue for an intrusive moral judgment by the state to interfere with an individual's private life?

  10. But Hank, Dems aren't together. I'm a South Jersey guy, so I keep track of the pols down by me. Jeff Van Drew (d-1) has come out and said he will vote no and said wants it on the ballot before Christie said it. No word on Assembly Milam or Albano's view that I have heard. I haven't heard of any public comments from Jim Whelan (d-2) for or against the bill. From my understanding, Sweeney said he would support the bill in 2009 right up until he didn't, so his word isn't worth anything until the vote.

    As for the Assembly mirroring the Senate, not so fast. As I mentioned, Milam and Albano are, to my knowledge, unknowns. Jennifer Beck's (a key Repub swing vote in the Senate on this vote) Assembly mates are unknowns. The only member of the Assembly who has gotten any press has been Oliver. They may not have the votes in the Assembly

  11. The wall street journal reported that 4 assembly republicans have been in talks with the Democrats to support the bill. The Dems in the assembly are working toward a veto-proof, bipartisan majority.

  12. Imagine asking 8 millions people for the right to marry my partner? it's hard enough to pop the question ONCE! for all y'all out there calling for a referendum I have two easy yes/no questions:

    1: would you personally vote yes on such a ballot question?


    2: do you think straight people should be allowed to divorce?

    (FWIW i'd vote YES on both questions.)

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