Evan Wolfson, founder and executive
director of Freedom to Marry, and Brian Brown, president of the
National Organization for Marriage (NOM), debated New Jersey's effort
to legalize gay marriage.
The men appeared Sunday on New York
City ABC affiliate WABC's Up Close with Diana Williams.
The segment began with discussion of
Governor Chris Christie's suggestion that lawmakers put the issue up
for a vote.
“In New Jersey there is no direct
initiative in referendum,” Brown said. “So the people can't just
gather signatures and then put this to a vote. That's part of the
reason why proponents of same-sex marriage are focusing on states
like New Jersey.”
“This was really kind of a
non-starter. It was basically Governor Christie's way of getting
this off his desk, getting this away from him,” Wolfson said.
Brown accused Wolfson of not wanting a
vote because his side would lose.
“Here in the United States we
actually believe there are basic rights, basic freedoms that are
protected for everybody under the Constitution. And it's exactly
what we don't do is have a big debate about whether you should have
freedom of religion, or whether I should have freedom of speech, or
whether you should have the freedom to marry. We're all Americans.
We're all entitled to basic rights and protections. And we don't put
that to an up or down vote,” Wolfson said.
Citing a survey that shows a narrow
majority (52%) of New Jersey voters support marriage equality, host
Diana Williams asked why not put it up for a vote.
“The people have voted,” Wolfson
answered. “The people elected legislators to do their job.”
Wolfson also criticized Brown's
assertion that supporters do not have the right to redefine marriage.
“When gay people share in the freedom
to marry it doesn't change your marriage, it doesn't change your
marriage, it doesn't change my marriage,” he said, referring to
Brown, Williams and himself. “Gay people are participating because
we're in love, we're in committed relationships dreaming of a life
together with somebody, building a life, doing the work of marriage.
It's not about redefining. Marriage is not defined by who's denied
it. Marriage is defined by commitment and love respected under the
law.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.
our video library for more videos.)
New Jersey lawmakers will vote on
whether to make New Jersey the seventh state to legalize gay marriage