Gov. Christie: Same-Sex Marriage Should Not Be Imposed By New Jersey Court

By James Beattie | October 15, 2013 | 11:53 AM EDT


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) (AP photo)

( - Six same-sex couples in New Jersey will be allowed to obtain marriage licenses on October 21 under an emergency order issued last month by Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson, who ruled that the state is discriminating against gay couples by not allowing them to receive federal benefits.

The state’s request for a stay of the order was denied, so Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is currently appealing Jacobson’s decision.

As previously reported, Christie vetoed a bill passed by the New Jersey legislature last year that would have allowed gays to marry, but supports a ballot measure to let the people of New Jersey make the final decision. New Jersey is one of four states that allow members of civil unions to receive spousal benefits, but not legally wed.

Marriage is a foundational institution that should be defined by the people, not judges or politicians, an expert on marriage said Friday at the Value Voters summit in Washington.

“If [marriage] is going to be redefined [Christie] wants to make sure that it's something that the citizens of New Jersey do themselves,” said Ryan T. Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and Free Society at The Heritage Foundation.

During a panel entitled "Questions Answered: What is Marriage...Really?" asked Anderson: “Governor Christie has always maintained that he’s against gay marriage in principle.  He’s for civil unions, but what he is for is putting the issue on the ballot in order to amend the [state] constitution.  What are your thoughts on his approach?”

“I think Governor Christie wants to respect the democratic process,“ Anderson replied.  “He’s trying to resist our activist courts in redefining marriage for the state of New Jersey or having the legislature, realizing that the legislature in New Jersey has already voted to redefine marriage and he vetoed that, saying that no, that if we're gonna redefine the fundamental institution of civil society, it shouldn’t come from a small handful of legislatures, nor should it come from an even smaller handful of judges, it should come from the citizens themselves.

“So I think his approach here is that he’s not in favor of redefining marriage, but if it is going to be redefined, he wants to make sure that it's something that the citizens of New Jersey do themselves, not something that unelected judges or their elected representatives do against the will of the people.”

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-sex marriages. WashingtonMaine, and Maryland all passed ballot initiatives allowing same-sex marriage last year, the first time it has been approved by voters.

Same-sex marriage was imposed by the courts in four other states, including Massachusetts, the first state to permit it by court decree, and California, where Proposition 8, a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, was lifted by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Connecticut’s legislature passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage, but only after the state Supreme Court determined that it was unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

Legislatures in Vermont (overriding the governor’s veto), New HampshireNew YorkRhode IslandDelawareMinnesota and the District of Columbia all passed laws to allow same-sex couples to marry.