New Jersey Senate President Stephen
Sweeney says he won't put the issue of gay marriage up for a vote.
Marriage equality won a large victory
in the state with passage of a law earlier this year, only to have
Republican Governor Chris Christie veto the legislation. While a
lawsuit continues to wend its way through the courts, it could be
years before it reaches the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The stalemate – along with last
month's wins on Election Day – prompted openly gay Assemblyman Reed
Gusciora to propose legislation to let voters decide the issue.
Gusciora says there is no plan to legalize gay marriage in New
Appearing on Michelangelo Signorile's
Sirius XM radio show, Sweeney, a Democrat, dismissed the option.
“Civil rights is not something that
should voted on,” said
Sweeney. "I wholehearted disagree with that approach.
We're not in a liberal state. We're in a moderate state. In
California they voted to make marriage equality illegal, in the most
liberal state in the country. I understand [Gusciora's] frustration.
But I cannot in good conscience put this up for a ballot vote, see
it go down, and then New Jersey is viewed as a conservative state.
You know, New Jersey, back in 1915, voted against a woman's right to
vote. Now, people say, 'We won in the three states [Maryland, Maine
and Washington].' And millions of dollars were spent. And they won.
But they lost in 30 states before. I'm not willing to put something
on the ballot and allow someone to choose civil rights.”
Sweeney added that he was “offended”
at Gusciora's characterization that Democratic leaders are playing
politics with a veto override.
“I am truly offended by this position
and statement,” Sweeney said. “This is not political. This is
about civil rights. Who says we're not going to vote after the
election? Look, we wanted to give our Republican colleagues who are
supportive the chance to get beyond the primaries, where they've been
threatened, in primaries. … I'm not looking to lose people because
of this issue.”