Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Capons in Trenton?

The moraine left by the marriage-equality glacier in New Jersey is full of debris, but not so clear as a trail marker. (Whew, block that metaphor!) Following the state Supreme Court mandate, all roads lead to same-sex marriage, but it appears as though the leaders there may be as timid as those here.

No, they are not likely to wait dumbly and let the deadline to legislate pass. However, according to recent interviews, the head of the general assembly and senate there are floating immediate civil unions and eventual SSM around. Other legislators seem inclined to ask as many voters as they can so they don't get stranded or have to take a stand.


If the first public attitudes of the two big guys in Jersey don't change, they will disappoint or anger virtually everyone. Both have said they want civil unions first.

The big suburban paper, the Courier Post, recaps their broadcast interviews to that effect. Senate President Richard Codey wants civil union legislation by January. He doesn't favor SSM, but figures "...down the road ... in another six, seven years, we may very well see gay marriage enacted in the state of New Jersey."

Odder is Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr., who personally favors SSM. Yet, he is another Boomer jealously guarding his position. He thinks public attitudes are evolving in favor of SSM, but aren't there yet. We read both attitudes as Democrats who claim to be social progressives, so long as they don't risk anything.

Likewise, the Holmdel Independent reported that legislators will be scrambling individually to -- depending on how you view it -- listen to their constituents or cover their butts.

Typical of the attitude seems to be Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, undecided on the issue. "We have to ask, Would society want this to be called marriage? Does society want to reserve that for a man and a woman? Are they willing to go further? And exactly what do we want to call it and where do we want to put it? And I think that, in a way, is a community decision and we in the Legislature are the voice in the community, so I think I need to talk to as many people as possible."

So, holding the promise of an eventual SSM law will:
  • Enrage the anti-gay and anti-SSM forces, who will likely try DOMA tricks as they are here.
  • Bitterly disappoint marriage-equality folk, who are so very close.
  • Confuse the voters.
  • Cause the legislature and administration huge bureaucratic scrambles to figure how to accommodate the new procedures, tax structures, and all the forms and training that go with them.
If they could get over their emotional issues, they could see that the sensible thing is SSM now...and ride out the reaction of the unhappy minority.

About the only politician so far who come heavy for SSM is ex-governor James McGreevey. The self-outed pol was hopeful, according to the Advocate. "I hope the legislature and the government does what's right and embraces the idea of marriage for two loving and committed individuals. I think there's a generosity of spirit, and also in polls New Jersey [residents] have embraced gay marriage."


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Ryan said...

Frustrating, but I guess progress is slow and bitter.

massmarrier said...

I have lost patience with legislators who hide behind checking with their consituents and then reflecting what they hear. The good politicians and executives lead. Otherwise we stagnate. Understandably, change makes us uncomfortable.

Sure, they should know what their locals think, but it should not be the deciding factor in voting, sponsoring legislation or offering reform. I want elected officials who are ahead of the fearful pack, thank you very much.