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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 26, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 30
Kiss it, Christie! - NJ marriage advocates launch veto override campaign
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Kiss it, Christie! - NJ marriage advocates launch veto override campaign

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

New Jersey United for Marriage has announced a new campaign to override Gov. Chris Christie's veto of the state's marriage equality law.

'With federal protections now available thanks to the removal of DOMA's 'Gay exception,' Governor Christie's veto is costing New Jersey families very real protections that only marriage provides,' Richard Carlbom, director of state campaigns at Freedom to Marry, said in a statement this week.

'This new, broad-based campaign brings the best of the movement to the important task of ensuring that loving and committed New Jersey couples, who deserve to be treated just like all other Americans, no longer have to cross the river [to New York] to get married and have their marriages respected.'

SIX MONTHS TO GET IT DONE
The New Jersey legislature passed marriage equality in February 2012, but Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the bill. Under New Jersey law, legislators have until the end of their current session, in January 2014, to override Christie's veto.

For the two-thirds majority necessary to override the veto, pro-equality forces need to pick up an additional 12 votes in the New Jersey Assembly, the lower house of the legislature, and three more in the Senate.

Freedom to Marry's president Evan Wolfson is optimistic.

'We see a pathway to getting the needed votes,' he told SGN on July 25. 'It's the same thing we've done in every other state. We want the voice of New Jersey families to be heard loud and clear by New Jersey officials.'

'A whopping majority of New Jersey's people support equality,' Wolfson added, 'and the governor should get out of the way.'

TWO-TO-ONE SUPPORT
A Quinnipiac poll done this month shows 60% of New Jersey voters favoring equal marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples, with only 31% opposed.

While New Jersey offers Gay and Lesbian couples civil unions, with many of the rights and privileges of marriage, these couples are being deprived of federal economic and social benefits now open to legally married same sex-couples since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA in United States v. Windsor.

'New Jersey's failure to end marriage discrimination is costing these families real money and real benefits,' Wolfson explained.

Freedom to Marry's New Jersey campaign was kicked off with a July 24 rally of more than 100 supporters on the Asbury Park Boardwalk.

It is 'quite possibly going to be the largest advocacy campaign New Jersey's seen in years,' said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality, who spoke at the event. Stevenson said that in the coming months the campaign will 'engage legislators, business leaders, corporations - all of you, and everyone in New Jersey we can reach.'

FULL EQUALITY BY 2016?
Freedom to Marry released its national strategic plan, 'Roadmap to Victory - Finishing the Job,' earlier this month. The new plan envisions returning to the U.S. Supreme Court with a case demanding nation-wide marriage equality by 2016. Freedom to Marry hopes to set the stage for a successful court case by ensuring that a majority of Americans live in equal-rights states by then.

The new plan calls for raising and investing at least $2 million more this year, with the full campaign expected to cost over $100 million.

Through the Win More States Fund, which was launched last year to raise, channel, and invest resources into key battleground states, Freedom to Marry has invested nearly $6 million directly into states to date, more than $1 million of it into priority states this year alone.

'None of us can stop now,' Wolfson told SGN. 'We're always looking for the next points of opportunity to advance.'

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