Although Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have brought marriage equality to New Jersey, the Republican Governor and possible Presidential Contender says he wants the voters to decide whether or not to allow same sex couples to legally wed.
Christie, who also spoke out against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex married couples federal rights, maintains he is “adamant” that gay and lesbian couples deserve equal legal protection.
Now Christie says he wants a gay marriage referendum on the ballot so that New Jersey voters can decide the issue, one he says he’ll stand behind no matter how the votes come down.
A recent report in USA Today explains why Christie might be so wishy-washy when it comes to same-sex marriage:
He’s tiptoeing between constituencies. First are the voters of New Jersey: polls show they favor same-sex marriage, and Christie wants them to reelect him in November by a big margin. Then there are Republican caucus-goers in Iowa. Christie needs their backing if he runs for president in 2016; in 2012, evangelical conservatives, who generally oppose gay marriage, made up 57% of Republican caucusgoers in the state, according to exit polls.
And there is a third group of voters to think about: swing voters across the nation, who might go for a Republican presidential nominee who is sufficiently centrist.
To appeal to those voters, Christie “will want to not be perceived to be as far right as many Republicans are,” says David Boaz of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. “That’s a lot of tightropes to walk.”
Christie, who is Roman Catholic, has said he does not believe being gay is a choice, nor is it a sin, and that he has gay friends who argue the issue with him. Marriage, he said last year on CNN, is “special and unique in society.” He followed his veto in of the gay-marriage bill in February 2012 with a call for a statewide referendum on whether to allow same-sex marriage by constitutional amendment.
Advocates for gay marriage do not support a referendum vote despite the fact that polls show New Jersey resident support legalizing same-sex marriage. Instead, they want lawmakers to overturn Christie’s original veto later this year.