Posts Tagged ‘NJ Senate’

“My Head is Spinning”: NJ Senate Committee Passes Marriage Equality Bill

December 7th, 2009 No comments


This just in: By a 7-6 vote, the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee voted out the marriage equality bill, with what appear to be appropriate protections for religious organizations whose beliefs teach against same-sex unions. (I’m trying to get a copy of the bill so that I can independently analyze its terms.) Its fate in the full Senate (and beyond) may be decided on Thursday, and is unclear.

As I wrote a few hours ago, some of the testimony focused on religion, and its appropriate (or  not, in my view) place in this debate. Read the linked article at the start of this post, and you’ll see that much of the opposition revolved around two points: religion and the right of “the people” to decide the issue.

As I’ve written before, this notion that we should suspend representative democracy to allow visceral votes on issues of basic equality is as perverse as it is popular. If you can find the testimony, listen to the exchange between a Vermont Republican legislator who came down to testify and a clearly overmatched NJ Senator, who pressed her unsuccessfully whether the question should be put to the people. “The people elect us to make hard choices,” was her unassailable bottom line.

But as to religion, consider this astonishing statement by Josh Pruzanzsky, Executive Director of the Agudath of Israel of New Jersey. Same-sex marriage “would endanger religious freedom [and] inhibit free speech….”

Whose religious freedom? Not those of more liberal religious groups, whose freedoms are infringed if they’re not permitted to solemnize same-sex unions. The connection between the legislative bullying of the “big” religions and the popular vote that reflects the beliefs of those same groups is clear, and troubling.

Also troubling is the just-below-the-surface equation of gay couples with sex, and the related anger over the challenge to gender rules that we represent. Consider this “comment” from one of the story’s readers, which reflects a primal mash-up of all of these fears:

top / muncher = husband ??????????????????
bottom / munchee = wife ????????????????????????

My head is spinning- does anyone remember Sodom and Gomorrah??

Whatever the full legislature decides, there’s a long way to go.

“Homosexual Nuptial Statute” to Receive Vote in NJ Senate

December 4th, 2009 No comments

Much has been written about the naming battle in the quest for same-sex marriages. “Marriage equality” — not the more apologetic “same-sex marriage” — is the term of choice for those of us who favor the right of same-sex couples to marry. On the other end are those who place quotes around the word “marriage” whenever it is modified by “gay,” “same-sex,” or (the favorite) “homosexual.” So it’s “homosexual ‘marriage'” for those most opposed. Translation: It’s not “marriage,” by definition, if  it involves a same-sex couple.

“Homosexual nuptial statute” is just…weird and creepy, a probably politically effective way of making it seem as though gay marriages would be legal creations only. By legislative fiat, this “thing” will be created. But it won’t really be marriage in any important social (or religious) sense — and that’s why we’re not calling it marriage).

And that’s surely the impression that John Tomicki, of the Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage, sought to create in using the clumsy term to describe what he thinks isn’t going to pass in New Jersey next week, sought to create.

But maybe he’s wrong. Read this, and keep up with this website, which is keeping abreast of the headlong developments in the Garden State. Of course, after what just happened in New York, it would be foolish not to be cynical, perhaps even dismissive. Part of me, though, thinks that the New Jersey Senators aren’t foolish enough to put this to a vote — which has now been promised for next Thursday — if they don’t have the numbers to pass it.

If that’s true, perhaps the cowardice of the NY Senate has in some way made its ever-competitive (and aggrieved) New Jersey counterparts more determined, rather than cowed. Perhaps the protests in New York, yesterday and today, have reminded the legislators of the political costs of their actions. And just perhaps, the human cost, too. This startling video of  NY City Councilwoman Christine Quinn’s breakdown captures a politician moving from a standard strategy discussion to something else entirely. Watch it and feel the cost of second-class status, no matter the power one otherwise enjoys.