Archive: June, 2013
TRENTON — Gay rights advocates in New Jersey were fired up Thursday in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decisions paving for the way for gay marriage — but they were split into three camps about what to do next.
Although confident that New Jersey’s system of civil unions for gay couples would be replaced with marriage by the end of 2013, advocates and Democratic supporters face a stumbling block in Republican Gov. Christie, who on Wednesday affirmed his opposition to gay marriage and blasted the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
State Sen. Barbara Buono (D., Middlesex), Christie’s opponent in the November election, called his opposition “spineless.” As the Democrats’ candidate she is the de facto standard-bearer for the party, but she was a lonely voice Thursday in calling for an immediate override of Christie’s 2012 veto of a gay marriage bill.
Don't get your hopes up, gay rights activists: Today's DOMA decision won't bring gay marriage to New Jersey, Gov. Christie declared tonight.
The anti-gay marriage Republican went after the U.S. Supreme Court for its decision on the Defensive of Marriage Act (DOMA) tonight, saying the ruling was "wrong" and "typical" of the kind of high court activism that often happens in the New Jersey Supreme Court.
He said the court "substituted its own judgment" for that of elected officials -- Congress and former President BIll Clinton -- who voted for DOMA in 1996. He called out Justice Anthony Kennedy specifically, saying his opinion was “absolutely insulting” to elected leaders.
Gov. Christie collected the Citizen of the Year award this morning at the Merriam Theater on Broad Street from a school-choice group, the Children's Scholarship Fund Philadelphia, and received a standing ovation from part of the largely minority crowd.
The irony, though, was this: Just yesterday, the Democratic state Legislature approved a budget -- negotiated by Christie and his team -- that eliminated a $2 million school choice pilot program that Christie had sought. It was one of the few concessions that Christie made in the budget process.
The Children's Scholarship Fund uses private donations to provide low-income students with scholarships to attend tuition-based schools, like Catholic schools. Christie has sought to set up something similar in New Jersey. After Democrats repeatedly refused to hold a vote on legislation known as Opportunity Scholarship Act, Christie proposed a smaller version of the program that would have budgeted $2 million to give 200 low-income students in failing districts a ticket to private schools or out-of-district public schools.
The youngest daughter of state Sen. Barbara Buono, Christie's opponent in the November election, wrote a scathing letter today to Buono supporters on the governor's opposition to same-sex marriage. In it, Tessa Bitterman, a 22-year-old San Francisco resident following her mother's footsteps to law school, says she is a "gay American" and Christie is a "giant roadblock to New Jersey achieving equality for all."
Christie last year vetoed a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage, saying voters should decide in a referendum. But Democrats refused, saying civil rights shouldn't be put on the ballot.
Bitterman had been non-existent on the campaign trail up to this point. But she has surfaced during a major week for gay issues. In New Jersey, the Democratic Legislature is poised to send Christie a bill that would ban gay conversion therapy for minors. While gay conversion therapy -- in which therapists try to turn gays straight -- is not widespread in New Jersey, the issue will be seen as a litmus test of Christie's stance on gay issues.
- Christie has cultivated close relationships with certain key Democrats through personal contact (texts, calls, meals) and, in some cases, has even refused to criticize their transgressions.
- He has millions of state tax dollars at his discretion, and pro-Christie Democrats have cited his generosity to their local governments as reason for their support.
- Politicians like winners, and Christie leads State Sen. Barbara Buono (D., Middlesex) by more than 30 points in the polls. A Rutgers Eagleton poll shows eight in 10 Democrats believe Christie will win in November.
- Many of the most powerful Democrats allied with Christie are fiscal conservatives who agree with him on education and union issues and are at odds on those issues with their own standard-bearer.
- Polls and interviews with Democrats indicate Christie has irresistible personal charms, including a sense of humor, tough-guy leadership style, and willingness to do the unexpected, like praise President Obama during Sandy.
TRENTON - Three days last week, Republican Gov. Christie appeared publicly - and glowingly - alongside Democrats.
Gov. Christie getting an endorsement from Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo (right), a Democrat.
This didn't air in our area last night due to the late Stanley Cup finals, but check out Gov. Christie "slow-jamming the news" on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." The ditty includes Anthony Weiner jokes, a "Born To Run" presidential race reference and weight jokes:
Gov. Christie's campaign strategy is clear: Rack up as many Democratic endorsements as possible to bolster "bipartisan" credentials and beat the pants off Democratic opponent state Sen. Barbara Buono (D., Middlesex).
Now that the primary season is over, that strategy was employed full throttle this week. Yesterday, Christie got an endorsement from a Democratic state senator, Brian Stack, who called Christie "the greatest governor the state has ever had." (See video, below.)
Christie said: "I make no apologies for working with Democrats, and he makes no apologies for endorsing a Republican."
Newark Mayor Cory Booker scored a major endorsement Sunday night in his bid to become the next U.S. senator from New Jersey.
George E. Norcross III, the insurance executive and hospital chairman who is seen as the most powerful figure in New Jersey Democratic politics, told The Inquirer that he is endorsing Booker over two congressmen and a top state legislator expected to run in August’s primary.
Norcross is a managing partner of the company that owns The Inquirer. His connections to trade labor unions and business leaders means that he can quickly raise money in the unusual, shortened primary campaign and mobilize get-out-the-vote efforts on and before Election Day.