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(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) introduced a measure placing the question of marriage equality on the 2013 November ballot. Gusciora remains "encouraged" in light of three states, Maryland, Maine and Washington, each successfully passing such measures this past November.
Gusciora believes that ultimately "this is a challenge for both the gay and straight communities to continue a positive dialogue in which I am confident will result in marriage equality becoming a reality for our state, sooner rather than later. I am encouraged by the three states that voted to expand the rights of marriage to committed gay and lesbian couples. I am even further encouraged by the fact that there are nine states, plus D.C., that recognize full marriage equality. And I am reminded of the importance by the countless constituents, both gay and straight, who want to see this as a reality for New Jersey.”
"While I firmly believe civil rights issues are not appropriate for the ballot, we are at a cross-road where the Governor refuses to sign legislation duly passed by both the Assembly and Senate," said Gusciora. "Moreover, absent resolution from either the U.S. or State Supreme Court, the ballot initiative is the only alternative at this point. There are still committed persons in loving relationships, raising families and paying taxes that are being denied the right to marry."
In January of this year, Governor Christie publicly stated that the issue of gay marriage belonged on the ballot with the voters. While it is not clear whether he still continues to take this stand in a gubernatorial election year, Gusciora acknowledges that even some gay advocates will continue to oppose a ballot initiative.
"I completely respect the older established gay organizations that are willing to let the status quo stand," continued Gusciora. "But this is really about the next generation, the college age and younger gays who are confident that they have the support and encouragement of their peers. This is really about them."
Gusciora was further encouraged by Republican Holly Schepisi (Bergen) signing on to make this a bi-partisan bill. He expects the support of other legislators "who equally feel that civil rights delayed is civil rights denied."
"In the end, I hope the legislation sparks a positive dialogue rather than placing the issue on hold," concluded Gusciora. "In the very least, it advances the ball."
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