Some New Jersey Democrats believe they can beat Gov. Chris Christie on the issue of same sex marriage. Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he favors putting a question on the ballot regarding same sex marriage, though he hopes Christie will reconsider his veto. Gusciora also said he believes the state should be doing more for residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy who remain out of their homes.
Gusciora said many young people are interested in legalizing same sex marriage and polls show the majority of New Jerseyans are in favor of marriage equality. “Minnesota was the 12th state last week to formalize marriage equality and that’s Michelle Bachman’s home town,” he said. “And nine out of the 11 states are all from the northeast, so from Maryland to Maine, there’s only two states that do not have marriage equality — Pennsylvania and New Jersey are the two holdouts.”
According to Gusciora, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono has been very supportive of LGBT rights. He said Christie is normally reasonable and he hopes the governor reconsiders his veto of marriage equality and lets it happen.
“Otherwise, we should take him up on his challenge. Put it on the ballot and I think that it would call for a very interesting and enthusiastic election season,” Gusciora said. “So I would encourage us to put it on the ballot but I think the governor could also just withdraw his veto.”
Gucsiora wouldn’t give his opinion on the likelihood of Christie withdrawing his veto, but said that as a moderate, Christie should be in line with the New Jersey public that by and large embraces civil rights and diversity. He also said the move would benefit the state financially.
“It would be great for shore tourism. Many gay couples from around the country would come to New Jersey, vacation in Asbury Park and other places down the shore to have their weddings,” Gusciora said. “And it would bring tourist dollars to the state as well.”
The pace of recovery after Hurricane Sandy has been slow, according to Gusciora. “While we’re doing ribbon cuttings on the boardwalk, many people are still not in their houses. I know of residents I spoke with in Manahawkin that FEMA and the insurance companies are not coming to the table and there’s little money to actually move the families back in their homes,” he said. “I think the state has to do a much better job of paying attention to the folks that still have not moved into their homes.”
Another issue Gusciora has been pushing is campaign finance reform. He doesn’t like the idea of anonymous groups donating money to campaigns. “I think it turns off voters and in the very least there should be disclosure of who is donating money to these groups,” he said. “And I think it would be good campaign finance reform to provide the disclosure of donations.”
Some Democrats have been less than enthusiastic about the reforms, but Gusciora said the anonymous donations increase vitriol and decrease voter turnout.
“I think we need to attract more voters to the election booths and not less. That’s why I favor marriage equality being on the ballot,” Gusciora said. “We should also have an open space question on the ballot because our open space dollars have been depleted and we need to really think about the next generation and saving more land from development.”