Gay activists are counting on three
major states to go their way on the issue of gay marriage to deliver
a powerful and populous message that Americans respect the civil
rights of gay men and lesbians. One of the those states is New
Jersey (the other two are New York and California), where governor
Jon Corzine has promised to back gay marriage.
Corzine says gay marriage is a
“fundamental right” and has promised to back a gay marriage bill,
after he's elected to a second term.
Amid a quickly shifting political
climate, will gay voters continue to buy a political promise to act
as being gay friendly?
Should gay activists succeed in adding
New Jersey, New York and California to the list of states legalizing
gay marriage, a quarter of all Americans would live in gender neutral
marriage states. Making New Jersey an enticing carrot for gay
But growing discontent with President
Obama's hesitation to make good on promises he made during the
campaign to the LGBT community increasingly threatens to spread to
other Democratic leaders. The risk of a political backlash against
Democrats perceived as all mouth and no trousers on gay issues
appears increasingly likely as Obama fails to quell a rising uproar.
Gay activists have already dismantled
Leadership Council's Thursday fundraiser for the DNC to protest
the Obama administration's defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, or
DOMA, the 1996 law that allows states to ignore legal marriages
performed in other states and defines marriage as a heterosexual
union for federal agencies. Gay activists mounted a relentless
attack on the president's record on gay rights last week (even as he
signed new federal gay benefits) and urged gay donors to skip the
$1,000-a-plate minimum event that features Vice President Joe Biden.
As the president remained mum on the DOMA defense, donors fled.
Last Sunday, Corzine appeared at Asbury
Park Gay Pride, signaling he would make gay marriage a key issue in
his reelection campaign.
“This is fundamental,” he said
standing in front of a giant gay pride flag. “It is about what we
are about as a country. What we're about as a people. Human rights,
civil rights, are absolutely key. In God's eyes we're all one
people, and we need to recognize that and behave that way.”
The governor, however, has not always
behaved that way.
When he ran for the seat in 2005 he
said he held that “the fundamental and traditional view of marriage
is between a man and a woman.”
He signed a civil unions bill in 2006,
calling it a “proud” moment, but made it clear that he believed
marriage was reserved for heterosexual couples.
“That is not where my personal views
are because I was brought up in the context of religious beliefs that
would define marriage as between a man and a woman,” he told the
Star-Ledger of Newark.
Corzine says he has evolved on the
issue, and his campaign featured the Asbury Park Gay Pride speech
prominently on the governor's Facebook page.
Corzine's opponent Republican Chris
Christie has also moved his message closer to the middle. During the
primary, Christie said he would “be in favor of a constitutional
amendment on the ballot so that voters, not judges, would decide this
important social question [gay marriage].” That threat has since
boiled down to: “I have no issue with same sex couples sharing
contractual rights, but I believe that marriage should remain the
exclusive domain of one man and one woman.”
If gay activists are willing to turn
off the gay money spigot that fills DNC coffers over Democrats that
appear duplicitous on gay rights, then will office holders like
Corzine – who speak eloquently on gay rights but have yet to
deliver – need to met a higher standard than mere promises to win
over gay voters?
The issue is certain to heat up in the