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On the governor's veto of the marriage equality bill

“The arc of history always bends toward justice,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King wrote years ago. It certainly felt that way to me last Thursday, when the state legislature voted for marriage equality in New Jersey. But politics, perhaps mixed in with prejudice, bent it back again on Friday when Governor Christie vetoed the bill. The states of Maryland and Washington joined the march toward marriage equality when their respective legislatures and governors approved the measures. We in New Jersey will have to wait. And to work and pray in order to bend the arc toward justice. The legislature has until early 2014 to override the governor’s veto, and the courts have a case pending which exposes the civil union law as separate, unequal -- and unjust.

There is no doubt in my mind that marriage equality will eventually become law in the Garden State. We just don’t know when.

Those opposed to marriage equality often express their opinion that same gender marriage threatens the traditional institution of marriage. I think all marriages are strengthened by giving legal, social and spiritual support to families whose relationships are marked by love, fidelity and commitment. All families -- whether they are headed by a man and a woman, two women or two men, need that support. And the church’s blessing.

And it will come.

In an op-ed published in The Star-Ledger on February 14, Bishop Beckwith joined with Rabbi Matthew D. Gewirtz of Temple B’Nai Jeshurun in Millburn and Bishop E. Roy Riley Jr. of the New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to make a faith-based case for marriage equality in New Jersey.


One wonders if a referendum would help legislators and the executive do what is right. As it is, small pockets of resistance frustrate progress but can be overcome by the will of the people. With a strong showing of public support, elected officials can express sympathy for the minority while voting the will of the people. Surveys are less persuasive and can be manipulated too easily, but a vote cannot be ignored.

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