GOP Lawmaker Introduces Bill To Put Same-Gender Marriage On NJ Ballot


christieA Republican lawmaker said Thursday he has submitted a proposal for a ballot question that would ask New Jersey voters to approve same gender marriage in November.

Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie met with a  same gender  lawmaker with whom he exchanged barbs over putting the issue of  same gender nuptials to a popular vote.

Sen. Kip Bateman, sponsor of the ballot question resolution, said putting the question to voters would allow proponents and opponents of  same gender  marriage to register an opinion at the ballot box. Christie, a Catholic who opposes  same gender marriage, also wants the issue put to referendum.

“This amendment is unique in that, unlike in the other states that have put the issue before voters, it would permit  same gendermarriage rather than prohibit it,” Bateman said. “This is not a so-called ‘Defense of Marriage’ amendment.”

Thirty states have adopted constitutional amendments aimed at banning  same gender  marriage, with all but one specifying that marriage is a union between man and woman.

New Jersey’s Legislature would have decide whether to put a  same gender marriage question on the ballot.

Senate President Steven Sweeney has already said that won’t happen. Democrats want the issue decided by legislation, or failing that, through the courts. They say  same gender  marriage is a civil right and not subject to popular vote.

Asked about Bateman’s proposal during a Statehouse news conference, Christie said he approved.

“I think we’ve seen the overwhelming majority of people in New Jersey think it should be decided by a vote,” Christie said. “I think it should be decided by a vote. But it appears that the Senate president and the Speaker don’t want it to be decided by a vote because they don’t trust the people to make this decision.”

Six states and Washington, D.C., allow  same gender  marriage.

Democrats who control both houses of the Legislature have made  same gender  marriage their No. 1 priority for this session. Christie has vowed to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. It’s unlikely Democrats could muster enough support from Republicans for an override.

Christie and Gusciora met for about 45 minutes on Thursday. Afterward, Gusciora, a Trenton Democrat, said the session was amicable.

“I think we both agreed to disagree but be respectful of each other’s views,” Gusciora said.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday declared California’s ban on  same gender  marriage unconstitutional, ruling it was a violation of the civil rights of  same gender couples.

{CBS Local/ Newscenter}