Same-Sex Marriage: Should it be up to Voters?

voterPhoto courtesy of Jamie Sanford

Recent news headlines have broadcast loud and clear that there may very well be a gay marriage referendum on the voting ballot in New Jersey this year. In fact, it was New Jersey’s first openly gay legislator, Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), who proposed the idea.

Although nine states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington) as well as Washington, D.C. (and two Native American tribes) currently recognize same sex marriage, there has been some surprising backlash in the mostly liberal state of New Jersey.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie swiftly vetoed the gay marriage bill that was passed by the state Legislature in 2012, reaffirming his stance that same sex marriage should be put to referendum. Many lawmakers and voters alike have called this move a smoke screen behind which Christie is attempting to hide his lack of leadership on the issue.

By putting the issue to a public vote, Christie defers all responsibility onto voters.  While it is purported that approximately 52% of New Jersey residents support gay marriage, some of them argue that it’s not an issue that can (or should) be voted on. Many hold the view that marriage is a civil right that should be available to anyone and everyone, regardless of race or sex.

And while New Jersey does allow and recognize same sex civil unions, the rights afforded to gay couples under the civil union law have been deemed “utterly useless.”

The possibility of a New Jersey Same-Sex Marriage Referendum in 2013 leaves a huge number of New Jersey residents (and Americans in general) feeling uneasy at a lacking political system who should be making such sensitive decisions for them. New Jerseyans, although by majority may back the idea of same sex marriage, want and need a leader that will move them forward instead of backward.

The argument against same sex marriage is based entirely on writings contained in the Bible. There are a number of Christian groups who agree that the Bible and the Constitution are two separate texts and that law making should not be based on religious beliefs of any kind. The United States was founded on the very concept of religious freedom, particularly to avoid the benefit of one religion over another.

Should same sex marriage be a votable issue? Three states – Maine, Maryland and Washington – approved gay marriage in ballot questions last November with President Obama at the top of the ticket. It can be done – but should it?