Gay weddings: The good and bad for Christie

David Gibson, right, and Richard Kiamco of Jersey City make history as they become the first official same-sex couple to be married in Jersey City in a ceremony officiated by Mayor Steve Fulop at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at City Hall. Seven other gay couples also participated in the ceremony.(AP Photo/The Jersey Journal, Reena Rose Sibayan)

For the full analysis in Tuesday's paper, click here.

Gov. Christie's decision to drop his appeal of a lower-court ruling on same-sex marriage is a significant moment both for his Nov. 5 gubernatorial election and his expected 2016 presidential candidacy. Here's how today's decision could be good for him -- or bad for him -- for both next month's election and a 2016 campaign.



Re-election: This takes away perhaps the sharpest critique from Christie's opponent, Sen. Barbara Buono. The Democrat has been campaigning against the Republican governor by arguing that his position against marriage equality flies in the face of public opinion in New Jersey and is only intended to appeal to hard-core conservatives in a potential presidential primary in Iowa. But now, that argument is moot. Gay marriage is the law of the land in Jersey. And Christie's opposition is old news. If you're a New Jersey voter, and this was your one problem with Christie, it's now gone. You have no reason not to vote for him.


2016: Yes, he presided over the creation of gay marriage in New Jersey, but he can still tell conservative presidential voters all that he did to stop it from happening: He vetoed a gay marriage bill, his Justice Department vigorously fought a gay marriage lawsuit, he filed an appeal after losing that case, and he sought a stay (hold) on the ultimate decision allowing gay nuptials. He can say that he did more than any other Republican in any Democratic-controlled state to prevent gay people from getting married. But "activist courts," he will say, stood in his way, as they too often do.




Re-election: With two weeks left in the campaign, Buono can ride the news cycle and get national attention off of this development. She's more passionate when speaking about gay marriage than perhaps any other issue -- and with a gay daughter, she has added legitimacy. So if she can use today's breaking news to get some national media exposure (and national donations) that could help close what is now a major Christie lead in the polls. In a statement today Buono said Christie has "bigoted views that are contrary to the values of our state." Coupled with jubilant pictures of gay couples kissing, such a message could resonate in a state that is now squarely focused on this issue.


2016: An anti-gay marriage Republican primary opponent will remind voters that not only did Christie preside over a state as it allowed gay marriages, but he dropped an appeal on the issue. Christie will then respond by accusing the New Jersey Supreme court of being "activist." But there's a problem: Anne Patterson, Christie's lone nominee to the court, agreed with her colleagues in opposing Christie's request for a stay on the lower-court's decision. And then, if Christie gets through the primary, he will face national general election voters who (if current public opinion trends continue) may be so overwhelmingly pro-gay marriage at that point that they may view Christie's opposition as an indication that he isn't tolerant or progressive or hip enough to lead the country.