Showing posts with label NJ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NJ. Show all posts

October 31, 2016

NJ Rep.Garrett in Trouble After AntiGay Statement


Dems Ad (thehill.com)




For most of his career, Wall Street has been good to Rep. Scott Garrett (R, N.J.). Garrett is chairman of a powerful subcommittee that regulates banks, a job that traditionally comes with perks, including big political contributions from financial firms. But that was before Garrett made some controversial remarks about gays.
  
In a closed-door meeting with the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2015, Garrett reportedly said he would withhold his dues unless the party stopped supporting gay candidates. After those comments leaked to the press, Garrett found himself doing damage control.

"I have no problems with anyone running for office," Garrett told an interviewer from New Jersey public broadcaster NJTV earlier this year. "I support the Republican platform. Which I think you just mentioned is supporting of traditional marriage."

Now Garrett's comments are creating problems for his reelection bid. In 2012 and 2014, financial firms donated an average of $600,000 per cycle to Garrett's campaigns. After his anti-gay remarks, that number dropped by half. Capital One, Goldman Sachs, and big Japanese brokerage firm Nomura all stopped payments to Garrett's political action committee.

It's not just a fringe issue, as it might have been 10 years ago.
Out Leadership founder Todd Sears, on LGBT rights
"There are real risks from a brand perspective, and from a talent-recruiting perspective, from being associated with anti-LGBT, or anti-inclusive policies," says Todd Sears, a former investment banker and founder of Out Leadership, a group that promotes LGBT awareness in financial firms and other industries.

Garrett's situation underscores how quickly the politics around LGBT issues have shifted. It wasn't long ago that support for LGBT rights could have been a political liability in all but a handful of Congressional districts. Now polls show growing support for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights generally, especially among millennials. "It's not just a fringe issue, as it might have been 10 years ago," says Sears.

The Republican Party is still wrestling with how to respond. The party has supported a handful of gay candidates, which is what prompted Scott Garrett to withhold his dues in the first place.

Democrats have been trying for years to paint Garrett as too conservative for moderate voters in the New York City suburbs. So far, it hasn't worked. But they sound confident that this year is different.

"His anti-gay comments are just one part of a very extreme Tea Party record that's now out there," says Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer, a former speechwriter for Bill Clinton who went on to work for Ford Motor Company and Microsoft. "I think as you peel back the onion here, people say 'Wait a second, I didn't realize just how extreme this guy is,'" Gottheimer says.

Gottheimer has raised more than $3 million, which has allowed the campaign to air TV ads like this one in one of the country's most expensive media markets. And the race has become a top target for House Majority PAC, which has spent more than $1.5 million attacking Scott Garrett.

I think as you peel back the onion here, people say 'Wait a second, I didn't realize just how extreme this guy is.'
(Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer)

Democrats hope to persuade people like Karen Gerbatsch, a registered Republican and self-described fiscal conservative who's voted for Garrett before.

"I started looking at Scott Garrett and what he represents, and it's not me," says Gerbatsch. "The woman's right to choose isn't there. Legal rights for people of all sexual orientation to get married is not there."

Gerbatsch lives in Oakland, N.J., a leafy suburb about 25 miles from Manhattan. But if you keep driving west across this congressional district, the suburbs give way to fields and forests near the Pennsylvania border.

The northwestern corner of New Jersey is where Scott Garrett lives. And where his support is the strongest.

"I know I've changed his oil many times before some of the big votes," says Kevin Kennedy, who runs an auto repair shop near Garrett's house in Wantage. It's easy to spot, thanks to half a dozen Garrett for Congress signs on the lawn. Kennedy says Garrett is soft-spoken and serious — a regular guy.

"I heard on the radio they called him a bigot and all kinds of different things," Kennedy says. "I think it's totally unfair. Anything I've seen from the guy, he's just a gentleman."

Kennedy says they've talked a couple times about this year's election. And he says Scott Garrett seems pretty nervous.


October 25, 2016

Top Adviser Testifies Christie Knew about GWB Havoc Ahead of Time






Republican Gov. Chris Christie was told during the George Washington Bridge lane closures that a Democratic mayor expressed concern that the resulting traffic jams in his city were political retribution, a former aide to the governor testified Monday.
Ex-aide Bridget Anne Kelly testified in her criminal trial that she told Christie about Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich's concerns and Christie told her it was a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey project and to "let Wildstein handle it," referring to David Wildstein. Wildstein, an executive at the Port Authority, pleaded guilty to his role in a scheme to punish Sokolich for not endorsing the governor's re-election effort.
"I said, 'He's talking about government retribution,'" Kelly testified. "(Christie) said, 'It's a Port Authority project. Let Wildstein handle it.'"
Christie has consistently denied any knowledge of the plot or the lane closures while they were going on and has not been charged.
Kelly maintains she believed the September 2013 lane closures were part of a traffic study, but she testified Monday that she became confused on their final day after Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye ordered the lanes reopened even though Wildstein said the study was a success.
"None of that made any sense to me," she said. "This was totally contrary to anything he was telling me. I didn't understand it at all."
Kelly is accused of plotting with Wildstein and another former Christie ally, Bill Baroni, to close lanes on the bridge, which connects Fort Lee and New York, as revenge against Sokolich. Kelly and Baroni have pleaded not guilty and have said the government has twisted federal law to turn their actions into crimes.
Kelly's testimony again calls into question Christie's public comments about what he knew. She also testified Friday that Christie approved of the idea for a traffic study of the bridge, and she testified she spoke with the governor a third time about the lane closures while they were going on.
Christie spokesman Brian Murray has said the governor had "no knowledge prior to or during these lane re-alignment" and "no role in authorizing them." Murray added that anything said to the contrary "is simply untrue."
Kelly on Monday also testified that Christie said that he had told Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to have Foye back off in the days after Foye had testified to New Jersey lawmakers that the lane closures were ordered by Wildstein and that he had no knowledge about any traffic study.
One of Christie's top political advisers, Mike DuHaime, testified Friday that he told Christie ahead of a December 2013 news conference that Kelly and his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, knew about the lane closures. Christie then told reporters that no one in his administration was involved in the closures.
Wildstein, who was appointed by the Christie administration to a newly created position at the Port Authority, testified that he used the agency to help Christie for political purposes.
The scandal developed just after Christie won re-election handily and as his national political profile was rising. It ultimately weighed down his presidential campaign, which ended with a fizzle in the primary season after a poor showing in New Hampshire.
Kelly also testified Monday that working for Christie was "confusing and frightening" but that he could also be charming. She testified Friday that Christie once threw a water bottle at her, angry that she suggested he introduce local political leaders at an event following a massive fire at the Jersey shore. She said then that she was afraid of him.

September 19, 2016

Mapping Bombs in NYC and a Manifesto Claiming this to be a Moral Thing



 23 St and 8 Av. NYC

An online manifesto by a person claiming responsibility for an explosion in Chelsea that injured 29 people has been discovered, and police confirmed Sunday they are investigating the blog's validity.

The following is the complete manifesto from an individual or individuals claiming responsibility for Saturday night’s attack.
I don’t believe that this posting has nothing to do with the bombings but we will know more soon enough. To me it is someone who would like to create a backlash to the gay community. Lately why would people be connecting bombers to the gay community? May be it has to do with our elections and having one of the candidates stirring the pot for all kinds stuff flying under the radar of the media and where perhaps it ought to stay. We bring it to you because we wanted you to be informed.

The blog is titled, "I'm the NY bomber. This will be my manifesto," and contains two entries:

Taking a human life
I don’t know exactly how I feel about taking human lives
However, what I do know is that If I don’t do what needs to be done nobody will pay attention. LGBTQ+ people are much more likely to commit suicide than straight cisgendered people. It seems that nobody cares, however what if people from the LGBTQ+ community started lashing out in response to the violence and oppression we face with violence and possibly oppression? I’m sure that would give people a reason to not stand by while so many people are being oppressed. I suppose I’m just going to have to move forward knowing that what I am doing had a purpose and will in fact make a difference. I’ll keep you all posted.

Manufacturing Test Explosives
Hi.
You probably have all seen the news by now,
the explosives detonated in New York City, that was me. Those were just some tests, I know where I have made errors and I will not make the same mistake next time.
I did it because I cannot stand society.
I cannot live in a world where homosexuals like myself as well as the rest of the LGBTQ+ community are looked down upon by society.
It is 2016 and we are still being viewed as mentally ill, sinners, attention seekers, and just plain weirdos in general. I am not going to stand by while under classed and underprivileged people are oppressed. I am not going to stand by while there is inequality in my country such as the racism being seen in white police officers all over the country. I am not going to live in a country where it is OK to have a misogynist, xenophobic, racist Islamophobic, republican candidate running for President of The United States! That’s implying that republicans in general should even be taken seriously as they are all cisgendered privileged white people.
This is not the end, this is just the beginning. I will be remembered. I will make a difference. I will eliminate my targets before it is too late.
This so called manifesto was found out as a hoax after the suspect of the bombings in NY was shot in New Jersey today. Again as I mentioned at the beginning it sounded like someone wanted to drag the gay community into the terror argument coming in from the Middle East and the fringe right (Donald Trump).

July 15, 2016

Close Christie Aide Charge with Role in BridgeGate+more



       


Jamie Fox, a former state cabinet official and longtime power player in New Jersey politics, has been charged in connection with the federal government's long-running investigation into the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced the criminal complaint against Fox at a press conference Thursday about an hour after the Port Authority's former chairman, David Samson, pleaded guilty to a bribery count for his role in securing a special United Airlines flight between Newark Liberty International Airport and Columbia, S.C., not far from his vacation home.
David Samson meets with federal judge in Newark David Samson arrives at the federal courthouse in Newark Thursday ahead of his guilty plea.(Robert Sciarrino | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)  
Fox, a former Port Authority official who later became a lobbyist for the airline, is charged with conspiracy to commit bribery for allegedly using his influence to help arrange the flight, which shaved hours off Samson's commute.
If convicted, Fox faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Fox has previously denied using his influence to secure the flight, which was canceled shortly after Samson stepped down from the Port Authority in March 2014.
An internal investigation by United led to the ouster of the airline's chief executive, Jeff Smisek, and two other executives in September 2015.
On Thursday, Fishman said United will pay a $2.25 million penalty for its role in the special flight, known to insiders as the "chairman's flight." The airline also agreed to institute "substantial reforms to its compliance program," Fishman said.
In a statement, Fox's lawyer, Michael Critchley, called his client an honorable public servant who believed the arrangement between United and Samson was "fully vetted and completely appropriate."
"Anyone who knows Jamie knows that he would never jeopardize his reputation by engaging in the behavior alleged in the indictment," Critchley said. "Jamie is not a lawyer. ... Jamie unfortunately has found himself caught in the middle of an arrangement that he believed was reviewed and approved by the necessary business and legal professionals."
David Samson pleads guilty in airline shakedown
Charges filed in the wake of the Bridgegate criminal investigation into abuses by political appointees at the Port Authority, then headed by Samson.

Critchley added that Fox, who is suffering from "multiple, serious" illnesses, "will not allow this unfair stain to be the last word on his distinguished career."
The U.S. Attorney called the behavior by both Samson and Fox "honestly so sad."
"They both should have known better," Fishman said. "They both did know better."
He added that when public officials misuse their offices, it shakes trust in government.
"It's a betrayal of our trust," he said. "It breathes more life into the cynical view that all people in government are corrupt."
The federal probe into the United route was an outgrowth of the investigation into the politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.
Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and his ally at the Port Authority,  former Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, are charged with orchestrating the lane closures in September 2013 as payback to the mayor of Fort Lee for declining to endorse the governor in his re-election effort.
Another former Christie ally, David Wildstein, has already pleaded guilty in the case. Kelly and Baroni are expected to stand trial in September.
The closures caused gridlock for hours in Fort Lee, delaying ambulances on emergency calls and buses ferrying kids to school.
Bridgegate trial will go forward, federal judge rules
U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton denied motions to dismiss the case.

By filing charges against Fox, the federal government is pursuing another figure with an outsize imprint on New Jersey politics, particularly among Democrats.
Once a staffer in the administration of former Gov. Jim Florio, Fox later served as chief of staff to former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli and former Gov. James E. McGreevey.
When McGreevey resigned in disgrace in 2004, Fox jumped to the Port Authority, where he held the position of deputy executive director, a position of significant authority at the bistate agency, which controls billions of dollars.
Fox left in 2007 to work a private consultant, briefly suspending that role while he served as a senior adviser to the Obama campaign. He then returned to his consulting firm, which counted among its clients United Airlines.
Fox is also a two-time commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, first from 2002 to 2003 and then from September 2014 to October 2015. He announced his resignation as commissioner amid increasing scrutiny about his role in the "chairman's flight."
Two former state officials accused him of violating ethics laws by failing to recuse himself from talks at a private meeting between Port Authority officials and United executives. Fox denied any ethical lapse.

Published
By Ted Sherman and Mark Mueller | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

June 30, 2016

Christie Hid Email Account Containing BridgeGate Related Conversations in Cover Up




 



For two-and-a-half years, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has maintained that he provided federal investigators looking into the 2013 George Washington lane closures with complete access to both his personal and government email accounts. According to WNYC, however, new court filings show that this was not actually the case, supporting earlier allegations from two defendants indicted in the scheme that Christie’s lawyers destroyed and withheld evidence.

 
Lawyers Say Chris Christie Destroyed Cell Phone, Text Messages and Emails to Cover Up Involvement in Bridgegate 
 
Christie:
“I turned over my email, both professional and personal, to all of the investigators who asked for them. And said, ‘Look at whatever you want to look at,’” Christie said at a campaign event in New Hampshire last year, insisting that he, unlike Hillary Clinton, did not conduct government business on his personal account. (Christie was running for president at the time.) “I had a private email account, but I didn’t do my business on a private email account. She did everything on that account and then when she knows people are concerned about it, she gets the server cleaned.”

As it turns out, Christie shared a personal email account with his wife, Mary Pat, that was never searched. (The sender was “Chris and Mary Pat Christie.”) He sent at least one Bridgegate-related email from that account to Port Authority chairman David Samson. WNYC reports:

That email forwarded an article with the comment “per our earlier conversation” that discussed a phone conversation Christie had with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo concerning the lane closure investigation.

Christie’s own taxpayer-funded attorneys from the Gibson Dunn law firm, which has so far billed more than $10 million to the state, were in charge of responding to federal and legislative subpoenas seeking such emails. The lawyers simply ignored this account, even though Christie regularly used personal email accounts, including the one shared with his wife, for government business, sources say. He even used this account to email journalists concerning state business.
In court filings, Christie’s lawyers said that they had been aware of the account, “which we understood was not used by the Governor for official business and contained nothing responsive,” and, as such, had not searched it for responsive emails. His lawyers say they have since searched the account but found no emails “related to and contemporaneous with the lane realignment.”

Perhaps even more unbelievable is the issue of Christie’s cell phone, which he was carrying at the time of the lane closings, and which has now simply gone missing. Attorneys for the two indicted officials want to review the phone’s contents, as they believe texts the governor exchanged with ex-aide Regina Egea in December 2013 will be useful to their case.

Last month, Christie said his cell phone was “in the hands of the government...I don’t know exactly who has it. But I turned it over in response to a request from the government, as I said I would.” The US Attorney’s Office said that it doesn’t have the governor’s cell phone and never did, NJ Advance Media reports.

However, Christie’s lawyers told the court this week that they had reviewed the cell phone and its contents to determine whether it contained any records responsive to the government’s subpoena. After that was done, they said, the phone was returned to the governor. His lawyers have thus far refused to comply with the other defense attorneys’ requests to share those records.


September 4, 2014

GW Bridge Officers Warned Supervisors about the Hazard Conditions, told to Keep Quiet


                                                                          

Police officers on the George Washington Bridge last September during lane closures apparently ordered by Republican Gov. Chris Christie's aides as political payback said they warned superiors about the hazardous conditions created and were told not to talk about it on their radios, according to a summary provided by their lawyer to a legislative panel investigating the scandal.
Attorney Dan Bibb, who works for the union representing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officers, relayed information from 11 officers, including at least three who said they were told about the traffic change by a lieutenant who ordered them not to move the traffic cones blocking the lanes. Bibb's comments were included in a synopsis obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Bibb told the legislative panel's investigators that one of the officers, Steve Pisciotta, used his police radio to report hazardous conditions being caused by the severe traffic and was told to "shut up" by Deputy Inspector Darcy Licorish. Bibb said Pisciotta told him that Lt. Thomas Michaels and a sergeant visited him "to tell him that his radio communication had been inappropriate."
Michaels said in an earlier interview with the investigators that the Port Authority executive who ordered the closures, David Wildstein, called him the week before and asked him what would happen if three lanes were reduced to one. But the investigators said he told them that he didn't have any direct knowledge about why the lanes were changed and that he found out about the plan to change them the night before.
Lawyers representing Michaels and Licorish didn't immediately return phone calls seeking comment on Wednesday.
Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts referred to a statement issued earlier this year in which he said Christie never had conversations with Michaels about the bridge, which connects Fort Lee and New York City. Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, has called the lane closings "inexplicably stupid" but said he didn't know about them beforehand.
Investigators are looking into who approved closing the lanes in Fort Lee, causing four days of massive traffic jams, apparently to punish its mayor, Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who didn't support Christie for re-election. The lane closures came weeks after Christie's then-deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, sent a message to Wildstein: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
Michaels, who grew up in Livingston with Wildstein and Christie and coached Christie's son's hockey team, told the investigators that he drove Wildstein through Fort Lee to get a closer look at the traffic on the first morning of the lane closures and that Wildstein told him they were part of a traffic study. He told the investigators that he didn't discuss anything "substantive concerning the lane closures" with Wildstein while eating breakfast with him that morning.
He told them he had only occasional interactions with Christie at the hockey rink and didn't otherwise talk with him. His brother was a campaign adviser for Christie in 2009.
Wildstein graduated from Livingston High School a year before Christie and was hired in 2010 at the Port Authority by Christie's top appointee there, deputy executive director Bill Baroni.
In January, Wildstein appeared before the legislative committee investigating the lane closures but declined to answer any questions. Kelly, who was fired in January, also refused to cooperate with the legislative committee.
The Record was the first to report on the Bibb document.
___
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report from Mexico City.

August 5, 2013

Christie Handing Gays in Jersey a Dirty Deal



New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s used to having his cake and eating too. You can watch on the Letterman show and is no doubt about that. Since Hurricane Sandy destroyed parts of Coastal NY and Nj along with the Jersey shore and Atlantic City he came out and ask for help and got the help and all the backing that Pres. Obama could give him. It brought his negatives down, which where high, manly as a bully and stubborn governor hard to work with if he disagreed with you on anything. People saw a more human side of him, he admitted about his weight problem instead of hiding behind it, which he could easily could have done.

Everyone knows that he has been playing political games with game marriage in NJ and gay Nyeseyans have gotten the wrong end of the stick more than once even before he was governor. There was even a governor that convince everyone that the way to go was civil Unions after the NJ Supreme Court rule that gay couples were being discriminated and gave the state a choice. Marriage or Unions but they most be treated like straights. This particular governor went for unions because it was the easiest thing for him knowing full well that it was apples and potatoes. Nothing was similar except they were mostly round. This was Mc Greavy who was outed for cheating on his wife with a male staffer that was blackmailing him, according to McGreavy.
Now comes the republican Christie and he wants everyone to be equal knowing that he can’t have gay marriage because he still with the old idea that this will hurt him. A Northeast State and he is not afraid of the North-easteners, he is afraid of people with tea bags under the eyes who hate everything including the constitution, statue of liberty and everything in between that has to do with the Northeast, gays, gun laws and social security until they start collecting it. What should he care? He want to be Mr. P R E S I D E N t like Marilyn Monroe would say.
Hey but he wants to appear fair because her is not going to win without the folks in the Northeast, like Liberals, Progressives and independents. So He is been watching black jack at the Casino's in Jersey and he thinks he can do a double hand. A bill for gay marriage was passed and he vetoed it. It’s the best for the gays because it should go to a referendum. Don’t you love people that tie up your hands and screw you with a broomstick and ask you if you are having a good time. Christie does. Hey he is good buddies with the gay president. The one quiet about the treatments of gays in Russia.

Christies' administration filed a brief last week defending the state’s 2006 Civil Union Act, which grants gay couples all the benefits of marriage yet bars them from actually getting married. The brief is Christie’s first official legal statement on same-sex marriage. Given his apparent aspiration to be the next Republican nominee for president, it is especially too bad that the brief also may be the most incoherent defense of heterosexual supremacy yet. That’s saying something in an era in which lawyers have tied themselves in logical pretzels to defend indefensible anti-gay laws. Even by that low standard, the brief reads like a student paper written during an all-nighter. You’d think an aspiring president would take the task more seriously.
The Christie brief was filed in state Superior Court, in a suit brought by six couples who sued New Jersey for the right to marry in 2011. After the Supreme Court’s June ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act—the 1996 law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples—the New Jersey plaintiffs asked the superior court to allow gay marriage in the state to begin right away. They argue that civil unions are inherently unequal now that the Supreme Court has tossed the key component of DOMA. The feds are now granting benefits to gay spouses, but New Jersey’s civil union law prevents gay partners from receiving those benefits.
Christie’s brief defends civil unions in three ways. First, it argues that the state can rationally restrict the label “marriage” to heterosexual unions because it is “preserving” the definition of the word. Second, it contends that it’s actually the feds who are now blocking gay equality by withholding benefits to civil union partners. And third, it claims that the state courts should move very cautiously when contemplating a major change in social institutions—all fine and well except that, as the state itself admits, calling a gay union a marriage isn't much of a change anymore. In fact, throughout the brief, what’s most striking is that every last argument Christie’s administration makes, it then proceeds to blatantly contradict.
 The brief starts by arguing that the state’s 2006 Civil Union Act—passed in response to a state court ruling in the same year that New Jersey had to either let gays wed or grant them all the attendant benefits of marriage—has a rational relationship to a compelling state interest, and is therefore constitutional. “To reserve the name of marriage for heterosexual couples,” says the brief, makes sense because “altering the meaning of marriage” would, in the words of the 2006 ruling, “render a profound change in the public consciousness of a social institution of ancient origin.” The definition of marriage has “far-reaching social implications.” 

Oops, except then it doesn’t. The brief then does an about-face, insisting that the nomenclature distinctions have no meaning at all—an effort to show that the law is not rooted in anti-gay prejudice. A “long-standing precedent,” the brief explains, dictates “that courts look to essence, not label.” It cites a 1915 court case finding that a law’s import “lies in the essential nature of the work done rather than the names applied to those engaged in it.” The brief goes to great lengths to drive home this point, even dragging in the Bard: “Shakespeare wondered what’s in a name?; for purposes of federal criminal law, the answer is ‘nothing.’ Substance rather than nomenclature matters.” And: “A rose by any other name is still a rose.” And: “Counting a dog’s tail as a leg will not give the dog five legs.

As if to illustrate this muddle, the brief proceeds to use the terms “partner” and “spouse” interchangeably, going so far as to argue that the civil union partners the state bars from getting married are nevertheless “spouses.” Indeed, the brief refers to “civil union spouses” in the same breath that it complains that the sovereign state of New Jersey should not be forced to cede the definition of marriage to include gays.
Let’s imagine for a moment that it’s true that nomenclature doesn’t matter a whit. If that’s right, then it’s the strongest case yet for the other side. If there is nothing in the name “marriage,” then New Jersey’s Civil Union Act has no rational relationship to an important state interest. The label is the single distinction the law makes. How can that both serve a compelling governmental interest and mean absolutely nothing, at the same time?
The idea seems to be to further New Jersey’s bizarre argument that it’s the feds who are depriving gays of equality rather than the state. Because the Civil Union Act intended to treat gay and straight couples equally, the brief argues, now that DOMA is dead, the federal government should give civil union partners full benefits “because they are spouses.”
The trouble is, New Jersey did not intend to treat gay couples equally. If it did, it would have actually made them spouses, granting them access to marriage—to the word itself. This is the precise meaning of the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that separate is “inherently unequal.” Awarding equivalent material benefits does not erase the stigma of separating a class of people from the core institutions of American life.
The contradictions continue: Precedent, says the brief, also requires a court to exercise “maximum caution” in intervening where “highly significant policy considerations” are involved. Therefore the New Jersey courts should not invalidate New Jersey’s law. But the state’s entire position is that there is no policy consideration at issue. There’s no material difference between civil unions and marriage, just a distinction in name only—and names don’t matter. Why shouldn’t the court act, then? Christie isn’t just making an argument against judicial activism here either. When he vetoed a same-sex marriage bill earlier this year, he said the legislature shouldn’t decide whether marriage should include gay unions—only “people” should, by a direct vote at the ballot box. That might be fine for deciding how to fund a town library, but the whole point of constitutional rights is that they’re not subject to a vote.
Can the Christie administration get away with its absurdly twisted logic? In 2009 the Obama administration defended DOMA against a California couple’s challenge. Its brief was so poorly worded and overreaching—it appeared to compare same-sex marriage to incest and pedophilia—that the administration infuriated gay and straight activists alike. The outrage helped push the gay rights movement into overdrive. The Obama administration eventually had the sense to reverse course. DOMA’s demise in June, of course, followed. Luckily for Obama, the president emerged unscathed. If Christie doesn't get smart, he might not be so lucky.
Adam Gonzalez and bottom parts by Slate Magazine

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