Open Phones: Referendum on Christie's Referendum

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie proposed a ballot initiative to let voters decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

LISTENERS: Do you think public referendums are the right way for states to decide on marriage equality? Who should decide whether states should allow same-sex marriage: the voters or the legislature? Text "whodecides" to 30644, give us a call, or comment here. 

Comments [53]


Oh, good grief -- Gov. Chris "We Dasn't Tax the Rich! Christie's understanding of why blacks and other civil rights supporters took to the streets to demonstrate:

"Influential black leaders in the state said today they were stunned by comments made by Gov. Chris Christie that civil rights pioneers of the 1950s and '60s would have gladly put the rights they were fighting for to a vote, and suggested he needed a history lesson.


"The fact of the matter is," he said, "I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South."

Really, Gov. Dasn't Tax the Rich? Reeeeaaalllllly????

Jan. 26 2012 08:22 PM
Brian Ford from Newton, NJ

If we begin to put issues on civil rights to a popular vote we will deepen the divide that already exists in the country. The legislature is perfectly capable of voting on the issue. Putting it to referendum allows the legislature to hide their vote and offers the potential of putting the Governor in a position to dictate which legislation should be passed by legislative means or by popular vote. As some person already described in previous comments civil rights laws only came about when legislation was passed not by popular vote. We sent our representatives to Trenton to do the work of legislation. Let them legislate!

Jan. 26 2012 01:33 PM
mockingJD from Ocean County

The Supreme Court has said time and time again that marriage is a "fundamental" right, whether it is procreative or not. Fundamental rights should not be in the hands of the people, they should just be.

Jan. 26 2012 01:27 PM

My dictionary doesn’t say that marriage is ONLY a religious rite.
marriage stopped being religious when divorce laws started ending marriage.
now if we outlaw divorce then the church can have marriage back, but not before.

Jan. 26 2012 01:04 PM
roncepts from park ridge, nj

This is a bald-faced abdication of leadership that insults the intelligence of the NJ electorate. Mr. Christie avoids taking a clear stand on the issue-- and gets is state-house Rethuglican cronies off the hook at the same time-- in order to maintain political pristineness. This is obviously a sign that he has his eye on higher or national office, and not on the interests of NJ. Future voters can't attack him either way on this issue; but they should know about this spineless breach of duty. Yet, he is sworn to faithfully execute the laws of the land and defend and protect the US/NJ constitutions. This betrayal of those fiduciary duties borders on the impeachable.

Mr. (Corey) Booker has it right: put menial decisions like a budget item to a plebiscite, but not broad, basic issues like this. We have a REPRESENTATIVE democracy for very good reasons. Mr. Christie's crass political maneuver sabotages the very core of our system of government.
(sorry if this posts 2x)

Jan. 26 2012 12:56 PM
Sarah Blackburn from Highlands, NJ

Marriage is technically a religious designation. If we all had civil unions legally, marriage could be "preserved" as an institution by religious institutions as they see fit.
If marriage is indeed recognized as a legal status (which it is), marriage then becomes a right not a privilege. This is why it should NOT be left up to voters to decide; it is a right that should be given to all people.

Jan. 26 2012 12:33 PM

"Religious oath?" , well perhaps to those who are religious. I am not ...and still believe in marriage. Get over yourselves people. If two people care enough about each other to want to share lives, let them. Such small minded people in this world ...I'd suggest you "evolve" your thinking but I'm not sure I'd want to open that darwinian can of worms. ;)

In the grand scheme of things in this universe ...we've got much larger issues that require our attention.

Jan. 26 2012 12:17 PM
Mary from Toms River, NJ

Human rights is something people should never get to vote on. It is up to our government to make sure that all citizens are treated equally. Two consenting adults, whether they are a straight couple or a same sex couple, should be able to get married and be equal in the eyes of the law. It is just baffling to me as to how this should even be something debated. A same sex couple getting married will not affect my life/freedom/pursuit of happiness anymore than a straight couple getting married.

Jan. 26 2012 12:14 PM

I'm reposting this because it so captures what's going on. Christie would not, did not but the Hudson tunnel to a public vote because he knew it would pass overwhelmingly. And he could just bull his way through to killing the plan (What were you thinking, Chris???).

But, since it is not a sure thing gay marriage would pass, and he can get political bumps out of it (as in both pushing up his popularity among some and pushing others around), Christie is just playing with the voters, people's lives, and, well, sound governance. NO WAY on this referendum idea.

"Raritan Valley Line from Raritan Valley Line
If only he had put that Hudson tunnel to a public vote, my house would be worth much more and my town would be much better (since it would have shaved a 55 minute commute to 35 minutes, and eliminated the transfer in Newark -- making it a livable commute and happier set of communities along the route).

Jan. 26 2012 11:11 AM"

Jan. 26 2012 12:08 PM
charlie from bronx

Brian- please do a in depth segment on the ideas of the tyranny of the majority, and how it was intended to be managed by the founders and what its happening now. please, the country needs this awareness.

Jan. 26 2012 12:02 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Since when is state marriage a human right? It is a religious oath, not a human right. But if people want some civil protections, the gov't should allow for civil unions, but not marriage.

Jan. 26 2012 12:00 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Where in the US constitution does it say that marriage is a government function? Government should REGISTER marriages, for tax and other purposes, but not actually marry people. Marriage is a religious oath, not a state function. Government marriage should be ended. Only civil unions that register two people living together to enable their legal, property, and custody rights.

Jan. 26 2012 11:58 AM
Joe E. from Asbury Park, NJ

Listen to Christie: he is a bully .. he is a coward. He can not take a stand about equal rights while his Republican 'dog-handlers' won't let him stand up the way he should.
As so many people note: slavery, woman's rights, civil rights, etc. would not have changed if the majority (in the position of bullying the lower classes) were in charge. It takes intellectuals, right-minded, even spiritual people to see the issues as they really are. Evangelicals are small-minded and are the people who lead the status quo all the years women lobbied for their rights to vote, when loving mix-raced couples wanted to marry...etc.
We need to change long held wrong thinking. This issue needs to be made from the top down and short circuit those who want to control minorities.
This belongs in the courts or in the house of law makers.

Jan. 26 2012 11:58 AM
tina from washington d.c.

Brown v Board of Education stated quite clearly that separate rights or conditions are NEVER equal and thus unconstitutional. Because of DOMA, LGBT are now living in "separate but equal" conditions. SCOTUS needs to step in and end all this nonsense once and for all. This whole thing is insulting and frustrating! And I am ardently opposed to civil unions as a band-aid, because they are still in direct violation of the right to equal protection. Civil unions are the separate drinking fountains of the 21st century.

Jan. 26 2012 11:58 AM

To those asking for a referendum vote, including the Dem/Green guy, beware what large infusions of rightwing money can do to any election issue. Be scared. Be very scared.

Also, since when do we put the rights granted under a constitution up for a vote when there is a small minority asking for its ability to use and implement those full rights? Want to apply that to religious groups? Voting? (Well, some states do remove the right to vote to felons, even after they've served their time and "paid their detbt" to society...again, beware.) Ah, thought not.

Jan. 26 2012 11:58 AM
Miguel J. Hernandez from Ossining, NY

No way any State should be permitted to vote on Marriage Equality or any other civil right. What would have been the outcome of the voting rights act if Mississippi or any other southern State had been allowed to vote on a the voting Rights Act back in 1964?

Jan. 26 2012 11:57 AM
The Truth from Becky

this again *heavy sigh*

Jan. 26 2012 11:57 AM
Jan Fogel

Our representatives represent more than the voters. They represent all citizens as well as the constitution. That's why they should vote.

Jan. 26 2012 11:56 AM
tina from washington d.c.

What about guaranteed inalienable rights do these people not quite understand? No rights enumerated in the Constitution are up for grabs or malleable by ballot initiative. The ONLY constitutional way these rights can be removed is either by judicial review or by amending the Constitution, which requires 2/3 of Congress to even put it to the states, then 3/4 of the states to ratify. SCOTUS has established marriage to the person of one's choice, in 1967, as a protected 14th amendment fundamental right, so these ballot initiatives, which have occurred now in 31 states, IMO, are in direct violation of 14th amendment rights, not only the fundamental right to marriage choice, but also the right to equal protection under the law.

Jan. 26 2012 11:56 AM
tina from washington d.c.

Do we next head down south to Alabama and Mississippi, two states who by large margins in polls, are still opposed to interracial marriage, and put black civil rights on their ballots? An interesting factoid, and relevant to this discussion, in 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled that all interracial marriage bans in the states were in fact "unconstitutional" and added marriage to the person of one's choice as a protected 14th amendment fundamental right, 72% of the American public was still opposed to interracial marriage. What if then, like we do to LGBT now, we started allowing voters to decide that issue instead of the courts intervening? This was Loving v. Virginia, 1967. How many more years then, would interracial couples have had to wait for their 14th amendment fundamental right, had we left it up to the whim of American voters?

Jan. 26 2012 11:53 AM
Tony from Downtown Brooklyn

I'm shocked that Brian and the previous posters haven't recognized this ploy by Christie for what it is: A cynical attempt to increase voter turnout among the bigots who might not be enticed to come out and vote for Gingrich or Romney but are likely to vote Republican if they came out to vote for this referendum.
This tactic has been used for years by the GOP to get out their vote with much success. Bigotry is the currency of the right and to not recognize that this is what's going on in this instance is naive.

Jan. 26 2012 11:53 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Civil (state) marriage shouldn't exist at all for anybody, but only civil unions. Marriage should be exclusively a religious function carried out by church, mosque, synagogue or temple. If two people want to legalize their living together, they should have have to option of a state civil union agreement. But marriage should be considered a religious oath, not a bureaucratic function.

In Israel there is only state civil unions, and marriage is strictly a religious function.

Jan. 26 2012 11:53 AM
Raphael Santore from new york

Our leaders are cowards. Gay marriage is not a question for the majority. It is a question of civil rights. Without the courts, I would not be in a Black-White (African American-Caucasian) marriage with grown children. Raphael

Jan. 26 2012 11:52 AM
Frank McStay from Sherman, Texas

Echoing the sentiments of Mr. Booker, I cannot believe this is such an issue. How is it that we, as Americans, and some public servants have the right take away other people's right? Equal rights was a dream that was the forethought of this great nation. Yet here we are in the year 2012, voting to see if some of us truly equal. We need to acknowledge other people's rights as our moral obligation. Gay, lesbian, transgender, etc. should be afford equal rights and protections under our laws. It is disturbing that we have to vote to come to a consensus on this issue.

Jan. 26 2012 11:52 AM

My first reaction was exactly the same as Mayor Bookers (sp?), but my second was to note that adding rights which have been determined to not be in the national Constitution, such as equal rights for women, met a "glass ceiling" in the number of states required to ratify it. Somehow, enumerating rights for subgroups becomes granting "special rights," which can be gamed to bamboozle voters.

We have a state constitution granting full and equal rights to all.

Christie is a political bully and conservative, and I do believe he is looking for a way to avoid granting state constitutionally guaranteed rights to gays.

No way, Gov. Chris "We dasn't tas the rich!" Christie!!!

Jan. 26 2012 11:52 AM
tom from lic

Isn't this the Rove technique that puts a hot-button issue on the ballot to help Republicans: Christie puts his BIG FAT GUY WHO SPEAKS HIS MIND character on it, but it's the same technique as Rove used...

Jan. 26 2012 11:51 AM
Erika from Brooklyn

I wonder how Chris Christie would have felt if his marage were put to a popular vote.

Jan. 26 2012 11:51 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Hope Mayor Cory Booker takes on Gov. Christie in the upcoming gubernatorial election. That would be a TREMENDOUS battle between two talented politicians, one which I deeply hope Christie would lose.

That said, despite Christie's baldly political buck-passing on gay marriage, I hope NJ eventually passes it.

Jan. 26 2012 11:49 AM
Peter from Crown Heights

I know people get very uncomfortable tying gay rights to the struggle for civil rights for racial minorities in the 1950s and 1960s, however, imagine pushing a bill about miscegenation to the residents of Selma in 1960.

Our courts are here to protect minorities. There's a part in the Constitution for protecting the explicit rights of individuals. I would argue that this is a case. Marriage rights for all individuals, or for none are the reasonable options.

Jan. 26 2012 11:49 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

Seems like this could cause a big conservative turnout at the polls in November which could affect the presidential race.

Jan. 26 2012 11:48 AM
I Blome from New York

This is just a ploy, as done in other states on social issues, to get conservative voters to the polls in November to defeat Obama and other Democratic candidates.

Jan. 26 2012 11:48 AM

We do not vote on the rights of minorities because minority status guarantees failure. "Majority rules with minority rights."

Jan. 26 2012 11:46 AM

As the commedian says... why shouldnt the gay community be as misrable as the rest of us.... The governor is too chicken to take on the those crazy extreme rebulican party.... i would vote yes for gay marriage, but i didnt get a chance to vote on any other marriages...?

Jan. 26 2012 11:46 AM
Unheard from NYC

Big Jerk Christie attempting to look democratic while knowing that a referendum is the best way to discriminate. Savvy politics, too bad its despicable.

Jan. 26 2012 11:45 AM
John A.

I am becoming vaguely anti-Gay from reading youth's blogs that are Pro-Gay. Details. Current social progress for this very dynamic group (many are hetero too) seems to support many genders for one person. EG they can have identity, gender and sexuality that can all differ, One could identify as a woman, be genetically a man and have sex as a transexual lesbian. Or some such. If it sounds crazy maybe because it is so to me. Anyway kids, tone it down, you're spoiled.

Jan. 26 2012 11:32 AM

EOC doesn't know what s/he's talking about. Historically "marriage" was always a civil contract between two men...the groom (or the groom's father) and the father of the bride, who was considered nothing more than chattel or real estate. It was a property exchange between two men, until the church decided it wanted a piece of the action.

Jan. 26 2012 11:30 AM

My civil onion partner and I testified the other day, and we listened to the arguemants of the "otherside", WOW was all we could say, these so called well educated Phds, still think that we have a choice,that we are mentally ill, and do not follow the 'norms' of society.
There can be NO referendum on my (our) civil rights, I stated as I asked the guard the way to the 'GAY' drinking fountain...

Jan. 26 2012 11:28 AM
BK from NJ

"Marriage" as the Christian sacrement is not necessarily "marriage" as any secular person would recognize it as a legal status. No one is trying to force a priest to stand in front of two guys in a church and say they are married in your god's eyes. They only want the state to recognize their partnership legally, and allow them to live their life, receive the benefits of married coupes in the tax structure, adoption, inheritance, and other rights.
If the country ever has a majority who think its ok to have sex with an 8 year old, then I will happily email you back and acknowledge that you were right.

Jan. 26 2012 11:28 AM

Calling a referendum on gay marriage is disingenuous and a political cop-out on Christy's part. When the measure fails at the polls -- I'd be surprised if it didn't -- Christy would get to walk away unscathed saying it was the people's choice.

Jan. 26 2012 11:20 AM

Yes, it should be put to a public referendum. This is not a matter of civil rights but of sexual orientation. What if a large enough majority of people start having sex with 8 year old girls. Can they then apply enough pressure to have this made legal and be allowed to marry them? There are plenty of laws and anti-discrimination policies to protect everyone, especially in this day and age. Gay couples should be and for the most part are afforded equal legal rights. If they are not then this needs to be rectified. However, two of the same does not a marriage make. I feel the gay community is pushing for the term marriage just for the sake of being arrogant.

Like it or not marriage is between a man (who has the tab) and a woman (who has the slot). If you try to put Tab A into Tab B it just ain't gonna work. Same thing with the slots. If the gay community wants to do something unique then come up with a different term for your relationships. Two men or two women are not the same as a man and a woman.

Jan. 26 2012 11:17 AM
MarieT from NJ

Come on Christie, this is such a simple concept - make it right and do it quickly. Referendum is a slow-down, buck-passing tactic.

Jan. 26 2012 11:16 AM
Raritan Valley Line from Raritan Valley Line

If only he had put that Hudson tunnel to a public vote, my house would be worth much more and my town would be much better (since it would have shaved a 55 minute commute to 35 minutes, and eliminated the transfer in Newark -- making it a livable commute and happier set of communities along the route).

Jan. 26 2012 11:11 AM
Georgia from Ramsey, n.j.

This seems to be a political move for Christy's political future. By making the a referendemm he doesn't have to pass or veto a bill into lw.

Jan. 26 2012 11:11 AM
Brandon from MO from St. Louis

We had a referendum on a law designed to curb puppy mills in Missouri, only to have the legislature rewrite it once passed.

Jan. 26 2012 11:05 AM
michael from greenpoint

In what other case would anyone consider putting up what rights a minority are allowed up for a vote? pretty sure you can't think of one that people today wouldn't call an injustice.

Jan. 26 2012 11:04 AM
Richard Johnston from Manhattan upper west side

What other civil rights of the citizens of New Jersey will the governor be proposing to put to referendum?

Jan. 26 2012 11:03 AM

when did we start voting on human rights?

Jan. 26 2012 11:00 AM
Cory from Not in NJ - Thank God

They should have a referendum if the Governor and legislators in favor of a referendum resign and return their salaries. They get paid to decide these issues and, if the voters have to decide, who needs them? A constitutional amendment is idiotic as no change in the constitution is necessary. So why amend the constitution to something that can and should be done by legislation? Do they need a constitutional amendment to approve the budget or change the fines for speeding? The Governor and legislature should all go home.

Jan. 26 2012 10:57 AM
BK from NJ

IMHO, Christie is doing this because this is how gay marriage gets passed without him having to sign off on it. I consider myself a moderate Dem, and Christie has earned my respect for tackling large structural issues in NJ without seeming like he only cares about re-election. Additionally, he does not bend to the radical right wing evangelicals by worrying about culture wars, etc. That is why he never wanted to run for President- he knew he was not radical enough for the Republican primary process. He called birthers "a buch of nuts" that he didn't have time for. He seems very pragmatic.
All that said, this is how he lets gay marriage get passed in NJ but keeps his record acceptable to the GOP so je can be nominated for Romney's VP pick.

Jan. 26 2012 10:55 AM
Kate Whitefield from Highland Park, NJ

A state referendum on marriage equality would open New Jersey voters to overwhelming influence from out-of-state lobbying groups such as the Mormons or Catholic church. (This same pressure tactic happened, as we all know, to a similar issue in California.) Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, said within the last several days, that (and I'm paraphrasing)the Black communities in the southern US would never have gained civil rights if they had depended on state referenda.

Jan. 26 2012 10:54 AM
Anna from Forest Hills, NY

Legislature should have the final vote, because only that way rights of a minority group might be protected

Jan. 26 2012 10:48 AM
Jim from New Jersey

Here's my pick for new Supreme court judge, but I refuse him equal rights. This is rich.

Jan. 26 2012 10:40 AM
Bo from Granville, NY

As long as I get to vote on his marriage I suppose I wouldn't object to a plebecite on mine. I love how Republicans want to limit government in our lives...until it's inconvenient to their prejudices.

Jan. 26 2012 10:36 AM

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