October 03, 2013 at 3:36 PM
TRENTON — A new coalition opposed to same-sex marriage said today its members will aggressively fight legislative efforts to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of gay marriage, calling instead for a voter referendum.
“We believe strongly, with Gov. Christie, that this issue should be decided by the people,” Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, said at a Statehouse press conference today. “Same-sex marriage is not about civil rights. It’s about special rights for people who do not want to marry someone of the opposite sex.”
The New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage includes numerous organizations that support traditional marriage, among them the Family Policy Council, the state Catholic Conference, New Jersey Family First and the state council of the Knights of Columbus.
Members of the groups admitted they were out-funded by organizations supporting gay marriage, but said they believe a majority of New Jerseyans agree with them. They said they were confident Democratic leaders in the Legislature would fail to find enough votes to override the governor. And they also rejected claims that they had “Neanderthal” mentalities or are stuck in the “dark ages.”
The renewed push comes less than a week after a state Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled that same-sex couples in New Jersey were being denied their equal rights and must be allowed to marry, setting an Oct. 21 starting date.
The Christie administration said on Monday it would appeal the ruling directly to the state Supreme Court to prevent the marriages, bypassing the appellate courts, which is the normal procedure. It has asked Jacbobson to put same-sex marriages on hold while it appeals.
Representatives from the groups said the court should not decide on an issue that, in their view, “redefines” marriage and threatens religion.
Activist John Tomicki called Jacobson’s decision “56 pages of moral relativism which now is going to supposedly set the policy for the state of New Jersey.”
“It would completely strike at the heart of religion and religious freedom,” Tomicki said of allowing same-sex marriage.
Jim White, who was representing the state council of the Knights of Columbus, said same-sex marriage would open the gates to arguments for polygamy, polyandry, group marriage and marriage between siblings.
“Marriage under the present definition has served humanity well for millennia, and we change the definition at our own peril,” White said. “Finally, keep in mind that defending marriage is not bigotry, and change is not necessarily progress.”
Gay rights groups have argued that civil unions, currently allowed in New Jersey, do not provide same-sex couples rights equal to those afforded married couples. Many do not want a voter referendum because they say it not an issue of public opinion but rather civil rights.