Freedom to Marry Founder Weighs in on the Next Big Fight for Marriage Equality

August 07, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Same-sex marriage supporters are calling it an unprecedented campaign in New Jersey and throughout the country. On July 24 in Asbury Park, Garden State Equality and the ACLU of New Jersey along with five national partners launched New Jersey United for Marriage.

“Today New Jerseyans and Americans across the political spectrums, Republicans and Democrats alike, across the religious spectrum, came together to recognize that New Jersey is at the epicenter of the next big fight for marriage equality and that we are here and that we are committed to bringing equality to the state,” said Udi Ofer, executive director of ACLU-NJ.

“As other states who have achieved marriage equality have proven, it takes a coalition,” said Jay Lassiter, of Garden State Equality.

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a gay marriage bill last year, insisting the issue should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide.

“My message to Gov. Christie is I wish you hadn’t vetoed this legislation and we plan to override that veto,” said Garden State Equality Executive Director Troy Stevenson.

Read the full NJ Today story here.

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of the national marriage equality campaign, Freedom to Marry, supports efforts to overturn Governor Christie’s veto.  In an interview with MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman, Wolfson argued that a popular referendum, while likely to draw a majority in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, is not the way to go.  “[I]t’s wrong to put rights up for a vote.  We elect our lawmakers to do something.  We elect them to pass laws,” said Wolfson.

“You know, the last time a New Jersey governor said ‘let’s throw a civil rights question on the ballot’ was in 1915, when they put the right of women to vote on the ballot, and guess what?  The men voted it down.  That’s not the way to go,” argued Wolfson.

Wolfson, also a civil rights attorney, points out that New Jersey’s same-sex couples do not benefit from the full package of federal protections that accompany marriage. “[P]art of what they’re denied is these federal protections and responsibilities that touch every area of life from birth to death, with taxes in between,” he said.

Wolfson attributed part of the change in the conversation about marriage equality to a generational shift, asserting that younger people today have “grown up in the midst of that conversation.”  A May 2013 Gallup poll shows that while support has increased among all age groups over time, the overall percentage of support for legal same-sex marriage in 2013 is highest among those aged 18 through 29 years.  Wolfson added, “This is part of why lawmakers need to look to where the electorate is going, and not worry about the political aspirations of a particular governor.”