(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon), the sponsor of marriage equality legislation (A-1), released the following statement Thursday on the Republican introduction of a constitutional amendment asking voters to approve marriage equality:
“Any legislation, no matter how written, that asks voters whether to approve marriage equality in New Jersey misses the point.
“Firstly, we are not Maine. We don’t have petition-driven ballot referendums, so let’s keep comparisons valid.
“Secondly, if such a ballot question was defeated, state law would still violate the concept of equal protection, which is what the state Supreme Court relied on when they first ordered equality for same-sex couples.
“The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals just this week upheld what we have been saying: a civil rights referendum is wrong and unnecessary because equal rights are guaranteed.
“The court simply found that the California ballot initiative served no legitimate purpose other than to impose on gays and lesbians, through the public vote, a majority’s private disapproval of them and their relationships.
“I’m disappointed that Sen. Bateman would rather politicize an issue that should be a legislative vote of conscience rather than an opportunity by him and his allies to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians.
“Any time you provide voters an opportunity to make a judgment of one group over the other, it violates the Madisonian principle that are meant to protect majority whims over a given minority.
“The proper path to equal rights for same-sex couples in New Jersey is through the Legislature, lest we subject our state to the type of costly and divisive campaign California underwent in 2008 and Maine will go through when its measure goes to a vote.
“All 120 New Jersey legislators and our governor were elected to show the courage to make the right and tough decisions. We must stand up and do so on marriage equality.”