Chris Christie Faces Renewed Pressure on New Jersey Gay Marriage

Image: Chris Christie Faces Renewed Pressure on New Jersey Gay Marriage

Tuesday, 02 Jul 2013 10:58 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Last week's Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage has put renewed pressure on Gov. Chris Christie to advance the cause in New Jersey, the last remaining state in the Northeast where same-sex nuptials are illegal.

A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 64 percent of New Jersey voters support gay marriage, but Christie's record on the matter is somewhat muddled.

Christie, 50, vetoed a gay marriage bill in 2012 and denounced last week's Supreme Court ruling — which nullified a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibited legally married same-sex couples from collecting federal benefits — as a "bad decision."

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"I don't think the ruling was appropriate," Christie told a New Jersey radio station after the decision was handed down. "I think it was wrong. They, the Court, without a basis in standing, substituted their own judgment for the judgment of a Republican Congress and a Democratic President."

But Christie has also said he would support putting the issue to a referendum for voters to decide directly.

"[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," he told CNN in 2012.

As a Republican who appeals to moderates and some liberals, Christie will need to solidify his position on the matter if he plans to run for president, as widely rumored, Matthew Cooper writes in a National Journal op-ed.

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"A ballot initiative over gay marriage would put New Jersey in the middle of the national fight over gay marriage, with the governor put in the awkward position of opposing the measure but supporting the outcome," Cooper writes. "He'd risk coming across as too passive to social conservatives, an important voting bloc if he plans to run for president and needs to court early-state voters in Iowa and South Carolina. But if he campaigns for the initiative he could lose, looking politically weak and, making himself less attractive to the Democrats and independents who have rallied to his side lately."

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