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NJ:Why An Expected Loss Might Not Be So Bad

January 8, 2010

A column by Charles Stile from the Bergen Record today shows exactly what yesterday’s vote means, and why it was key to another court challenge.

The 2006 court decision, which led to the civil union law, punted on the question of marriage and said it was for the Legislature to decide.

Well, the Democratic process has, for all intents and purposes, run its course. That makes the tally sheet of Thursday’s vote an important document: It puts a final stamp on a legislative process that failed to comply with the court order. Gay marriage advocates believe the court will be more likely to answer the question of “marriage” instead of deferring to the Legislature.

“Along the way, a lot of folks asked, well if there is a shot that you might lose, why would you call for a vote today?” said Steven Goldstein, director of Garden State Equality, the chief group lobbying for the bill. “The answer is, there is conclusive proof that the legislative process has been exhausted. And the Legislature failed its state constitutional duty to provide equal protection under the law.”

And the coward of the day:

It’s also clear that the next Democratic Senate president, Stephen Sweeney, wants nothing to do with it. Sweeney, soon to be the second most powerful person in Trenton, abstained on the grounds that the measure was doomed for defeat. Instead of declaring where he stood on a gut-check, civil rights issue, Sweeney made a strategic decision to play it safe.

“They [same sex marriage advocates] made a very strong case, and I would have been very happy to pass it,” Sweeney said. “It wasn’t close, unfortunately.”

Worth a read of the full piece.

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