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    November 02, 2006

    McGreevey update: He did put his mouth where his mouth is

    Posted by: Chris

    An intrepid gay news hound informs me that James McGreevey has, in fact, offered his services on behalf of those lobbying the New Jersey Legislature to amend the state's marriage laws to include same-sex couples, rather than create a separate, unequal institution called civil unions. In an interview with WNBC that is available on video (though I can't get it to play on my Mac), the former New Jersey governor, says of the legislative battle to come, "I'll do whatever Steve Goldstein wants me to do."

    Mcgreeveyvid Goldstein, you'll recall, is the head of Garden State Equality, New Jersey's gay rights group, who refused to see victory in the state Supreme Court ruling, instead declaring (cue Scarlett O'Hara eating an onion), "So help us God, New Jersey's LGBTI community and our millions of straight allies will settle for nothing less than 100-percent marriage equality." If that's the case, then Goldstein shouldn't hesitate to enlist McGreevey in the fight, despite his troubled marital trackrecord.

    The fight for full marriage equality appears quite achievable in New Jersey, despite opposition from the governor and leaders of both the state Assembly and Senate, all of whom are Democrats. Both Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) and Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) already talk about marriage for gay couples as an inevitability, though just not yet. Gannett News Service reports:

    "If you look at the ways we've advanced in terms of rights for gays and lesbians, clearly the next step would be marriage," Codey said. …

    "At some point down the line, there will be broader support for same-sex marriage, but I don't believe we are there yet," said Roberts, who himself favors gay marriage over civil unions. …

    "If you look at the history for domestic partnerships, and the fact that we are probably going to do civil unions, the next step that would clarify everything would be marriage," Codey said.

    Codey said polling data shows growing acceptance of gay marriage. If that trend continues, the Legislature will come to reflect those beliefs in future years, he said. In an interview on WCBS radio Codey said that the change might come in six or seven years, but later said he was only speculating. Roberts declined to predict when gay marriage might win legislative approval.

    In fact, a Zogby poll commissioned by Garden State Equality showed a majority already favoring
    marriage equality, 56 to 39 percent. Two big caveats, however: The poll was taken before the Supreme Court opinion, which might have crystallized opposition to marriage among some, and because it was commissined by the gay rights group, the question was no doubt worded to elicit the highest possible positive response.

    Still, the climate in New Jersey makes marriage a realistic legislative goal, and as Bill Clinton loved to say during the "gays in the military" debate, "We don't have a person to waste."



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