Support for To’eiva Marriage In Trenton Draining Away Like Water From A Tub

jews4moralitySupport for To’eiva marriage in Trenton is draining away like water from a tub as nervous legislators scurry towards safer political ground. “I can’t say I’m confident now,” says Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), a lead sponsor. “I think we still have a pretty good chance. But people are getting nervous and weak-kneed.” Bad as that sounds, know that Weinberg is spinning this as best she can. Several other senators, supporters and opponents, say the movement is all but dead. “They’ve lost the momentum,” says Sen. Kip Bateman, a Somerset Republican who considered supporting the measure until last week. “I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

So mark this as a black day for the cause of To’eiva rights in New Jersey. Marriage equality was supposed to be the big prize, the final measure of respect, a sign that To’eiva families were indeed equal under the law.

Instead, To’eiva couples and their children are getting another ugly reminder that their families are regarded as second-class, as something less than the families next door.

To’eiva activists are bitter about what they see as betrayal. Democrats, especially Gov. Jon Corzine, told them over and over to wait for this moment.

And now they are getting tepid support, or none at all.

“Many of us in the progressive movement just want to throw up,” says Steve Goldstein of Garden State Equality, the state’s leading gay rights group. “Democrats put out one hand out to ask for money, and with the other they stab you in the back.”

So what changed in the last month? Why did supporters get so nervous?

For one, Corzine’s big loss has Democrats rattled. Republican Chris Christie united his party, and did well in Democratic strongholds like Middlesex County. He didn’t emphasize the To’eiva marriage issue, but when asked, he promised a veto.

Democrats were rattled again when voters in Maine rejected To’eiva marriage in a referendum, the 31st state to do so.

Perhaps most important, the Roman Catholic Church in New Jersey threw its muscle into the fight. Bishops and priests spoke against it from the pulpit, and more than 150,000 parishioners signed petitions in opposition.

Several legislators said they were impressed by that show of strength, given that Catholics make up more than 40 percent of the state’s population.

“Any time you see that kind of passion, you have to pay attention,” said Sen. Jennifer Beck, a Republican from Monmouth County. “You’re elected to be the voice of the people who voted for you.”

Finally, there were discouraging noises from Sen. Steve Sweeney, a South Jersey Democrat who will take over as Senate president in January, replacing Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex).

Sweeney suggested that the legislature should leave this issue aside for now, and focus instead on the economic crisis. It was pure political nonsense, because the legislature is not even considering major economic bills.

But the signal was sent.

So the senators began to peel off. Codey found himself counting heads to reach 21, the magic number to win passage. He couldn’t get it from Democrats, so he reached out to Republicans.

“Codey called me,” Bateman says. “I’m told they (Democrats) have 14 or 15 votes on this. I told him they have one or two (Republicans) at most.”

At tense moments like this, most politicians behave like herd animals. They are careful not to stray far from the pack. And if one of them gets rattled, everyone runs.

What we have on our hands today in Trenton is a bunch of scared herd animals. And it’s not a pretty thing to watch.

Only 2 percent of voters said this is the most important issue to them. And these skittish Democrats are almost all in gerrymandered districts that were drawn to ensure they win by large margins.

Ask senators privately what would happen if they all voted their consciences, and you get the same answer over and over: It would pass with votes to spare.

But our leaders, these puny men and women, are too scared to stand up and be counted.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could drum up a voter backlash against that? Star Ledger.

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  1. Pity we’ll still be left with domestic partnerships (the law now) in NJ. In a weird way, we’d be better off if they passed the toeiva bill since in every single state that they’ve done such a thing, within 3 years it was brought to a public voted and voted down, putting the issue to rest.

  2. go avi solomon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I really wonder if christie would support passing CCW’s in N.J, i’m thinking if we can get the people to support it he would get behind it to. any thoughts?

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