In a post this morning on the bold policy initiatives the governor of New Jersey has been putting forward, Jennifer Rubin looks at how he is handling the contentious issue of state recognition of same-sex marriage:
Take [Chris Christie’s] decision to send the issue of gay marriage to the voters. He can read the polls like anyone else. They show in the blue state strong support for gay marriage, so if that’s what the people want, what are state Republicans going to complain about? And, since he is personally opposed to gay marriage (and would lose street cred with elements of the GOP base), he satisfied Republicans by vetoing the legislation, giving conservatives the chance to make their case with the people of New Jersey.
As he said in a CNN interview, “And if the people in New Jersey, as some of the same-sex marriage advocates suggest the polls indicate, are in favor of it, then my position would not be the winning position, but I’m willing to take that risk because I trust the people of the state.”
Or, thinking about it from the other direction, if the people of New Jersey vote for gay marriage, Christie will have ensured political consensus and obviated conservatives’ concerns about gay marriage being ”imposed” on the citizenry. Many who think that opposition to gay marriage is becoming an unsustainable position but who respect the views of social conservatives would look at Christie’s maneuver and conclude: Ah, he’s figured out how to get the party from here (stuck on the side of an argument that’s largely been lost) to there (let gay marriage come into law by popular acclamation that reflects the changed views of Americans).
Bit of fancy footwork indeed. Now, wonder why advocates of state recognition of same-sex marriage bristle at the notion of sending this to the voters. With the polls showing strong support for such recognition, this could provide the first victory for gay marriage at the ballot box.
Consider for a moment what he says about trusting the people of his state.