New Jersey Senate President Sweeney takes stand against marriage referendum

This week, New Jersey's state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he would not support a measure that would allow a referendum on the freedom to marry in New Jersey, and that he would not post a referendum bill to committee. Earlier this year, the New Jersey legislature approved a law that would have ended the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, but the state's governor, Chris Christie, vetoed the bill. 

Sweeney said: "I have firmly stated before and will say again now that I do not believe you put civil rights on the ballot, period. It is the job of elected officials to ensure that everyone is provided equal protection and equal rights under the law. We should not hide from the responsibility. We should embrace it.  

Senate President Sweeney was one of the key forces behind passing the marriage law in the legislature earlier this year. Now, he has set his sights on working with advocates of the freedom to marry to overturn the governor's veto and ensure that same-sex couples across the state can share in the joys of marriage. The state legislature has until the legislature session ends in January 2014 to override Gov. Christie's veto. Same-sex couples in the state currently are able to join together in civil union, which provides some, but not all, of the protections and responsibilities that marriage affords. 

Today, Freedom to Marry issued a join statement with Garden State Equality - the statewide organization working on marriage and other LGBT issues - and the Human Rights Campaign - applauding Sweeney's commitment to passing the freedom to marry legislatively. The statement reads:Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign were key national supporters, with our state and local partners, in the four Election Day victories at the ballot in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State. Even as we celebrate those milestones, we continue to believe that ballot measures to determine equal protection are offensive to the rights of minorities and hold unspeakable potential for divisiveness.

Moving forward, we will continue to push for state legislative action as the right course for affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry. In New Jersey, Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign stand with Garden State Equality in the fight to achieve an override of Governor Christie's veto. Our organizations will work together, as we have before, to end marriage discrimination in New Jersey and to provide emotional, financial and legal security to same-sex couples and their families at last.

Read more about the freedom to marry in New Jersey HERE