The following was sent to the N.J. governor’s office the morning of February 29, 2012, 11 days after Chris Christie vetoed the New Jersey legislature’s bill to legalize same-sex marriage in a mostly progressive state, which already recognizes civil unions, and whose majority of citizens support the referendum.
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Att: Mr. Christie
Marriage is the union of two different surnames, in friendship and in love, in order to continue the posterity of the former sages, and to furnish those who shall preside at the sacrifices to heaven and earth, at those in the ancestral temple, and at those at the altars to the spirits of the land and grain.
I send this missive neither as a taxpaying citizen of New Jersey, which I certainly am, nor as an activist for progressive measures in and out of the political arena, which I find mostly to be a masturbatory enterprise. And trust me on this, despite my weekly contributions to the editorial din as founder and president of the Reality Check News & Information Desk; ideological agenda is less an aim than a useful cudgel to effectively pummel for laughs and a paycheck. What you are dealing with here is a generational contemporary. In fact, you are literally three days older than me.
And so fellow post-boomer Virgo, it comes as some surprise that you decided to veto the same-sex marriage bill recently passed through our state legislature.
Come on, man. I used to think this type of systemic bigotry was the tarnished emblem of a bygone era filled with vapid familial/cultural inbreeds that perpetuated myths in order to protect their own myths; pathetic fading echoes of Jim Crow and McCarthyism. Remember we used to laugh at those ridiculous dumb-asses who stonewalled a woman’s right to vote, a woman’s right to choose, an African-American’s right to eat at a diner, sleep in a hotel or use public bathrooms? The insipid puritan throwbacks that pitched a fit when Jack Johnson showed up at a PR event with a white woman or when Elvis shook his hips on TV were freakish wax images from the black-and-white dark ages.
Our generation is supposed to be so far removed from this type of atavistic nonsense it’s laughable that one of us would gain power and pull the same tired shit. Being on the wrong side of history was the sad work of the frightened old guys, the feeble-minded post-war, pre-enlightenment drones who ignored a reasoned evolution of thought, and not all that ‘60s crap we stomped out in the ‘70s and ‘80s when the cold stark realities of a drug-fueled, sex-addled hedonism for hedonism sake “movement” was reduced to a burned out disco nightmare. Fuck “Born To Run,” you don’t know a thing about that song. Shit, Springsteen wrote 40 songs about New Jersey and they are all I gotta get out of this backwater hellscape, babe! “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” Mista Christie. That’s our anthem.
“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
You grew up in Jersey, not Alabama or Mississippi, right? Where the hell is this coming from?
Is it because you’re part of a political party, which is something akin to being a Boy Scout? Okay, there may be rules of engagement and secret handshakes that those of us in the Freethinker milieu find curious if not goofy, but don’t you pride yourself on being a bit of a freethinker (small f) on several issues both social and fiscal within the Republican brand?
So, what’s your play?
Your official public position as reported is; “I am adhering to what I’ve said since this bill was first introduced—an issue of this magnitude and importance, which requires a constitutional amendment, should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide. I continue to encourage the Legislature to trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing our citizens to vote on a question that represents a profoundly significant societal change. This is the only path to amend our State Constitution and the best way to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in our state.”
All right, so the whole constitutional thing is not your strong suit. I can accept that. You’re the union-busting, tax-slashing blustery wise-guy—although my property taxes were just hiked and I’m not sure any taxes have been eased since your swearing in, but that is another letter for another day. But you do realize that you have been duly elected as a caretaker of said constitution, along with your fellow legislators, to interpret and uphold its tenets? Then what’s with the buck passing? This feckless maneuver appears more curious than your veto in that you have fashioned your cult of personality to that of a tough-talking straight-shooter Jersey type out of a 1930s Jimmy Cagney flick. Seems odd this is too big of an issue in which for you to come to grips.
Oh, and by the way, voting on a civil right isn’t exactly how constitutions are written up. The Bill Of Rights, as granted by the United States Constitution, supersedes all half-baked state initiatives. Please see the American Civil War of 1861 or the Civil Rights Act a century later for prime examples.
And while it is hard to believe you buy into the whole facile Religious Right silliness, the legislation contains a religious opt-out clause, meaning no church clergy would be required to perform gay marriages and places of worship would not have to allow same-sex weddings at their facilities.
It can’t be philosophical or historical, can it? No one who has cracked a book or two can seriously believe there is such a thing as “sanctity of marriage.” Maybe you’re not familiar with the history of the institution, which pre-dates anything resembling modern Judaism or for that matter Christianity by centuries. Marriage is a business agreement, a property grab-caste jumping exercise that the Catholic church turned into a money-making scheme and the puritans ran up every flag pole they could get their grubby hands on.
Let’s say for the wildest sake of argument you are concerned for the fabricated “definition” of marriage; then why don’t you make a cause of repealing your state’s No-Fault Divorce Cause Of Action, which grants legal separation to any husband and wife that lives separately in different houses for a period of at least eighteen consecutive months? Anyone without dung for brains can see the threat this law is to the purported “sanctity of marriage,” which, as stated, can be easily disproved as a lark by a serious perusal of historical fact.
Marriage is merely a business merger without humans, whose emotions, sexual energy and pure, embroiled passion give it whatever meaning it possesses. Maybe you heard that homosexuals are human.
So I can only assume you’re a homophobe?
It’s fine. I don’t particularly embrace anyone or most anyone’s culture, but then again I’m not representing anyone or their culture, but the governor, sir, is the governor of all, and the majority is not always right. I heard you say much the same when some of your more unpopular policies were polled into the ground. You civil servants come to that eventually. Hell, I say it too when stuff I believe (the four or five I have left) are polled into the ground. Thing is no poll or vote is going to make a wrong a right and you have a steaming bowl of wrong on your hands here, no matter your reason.
Finally, since you’re a secular leader and most of what is described above is what I call voodoo gobbledygook, your specious argument, assuming you are not a spectacularly uniformed homophobic party lackey, rests on the Civil Union law currently on the books. In fact, you have stated that you are “just as adamant that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples—as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits.”
Well then, consider the case of John Grant and Daniel Weiss, an Asbury Park couple in a civil union and are among many who recently testified in support of gay marriage. According to a well-documented story from several local news reports, including my old pals at the Asbury Park Press, when Grant was in a life-threatening automobile accident and rushed to a New York hospital in 2010—before that state legalized gay marriage—Weiss said he couldn’t authorize badly needed surgery or even go through his partner’s wallet to find his health insurance card. He said their civil union was essentially worthless; Grant’s neurosurgeon even asked, “What is a civil union?”
Look, man, you appear to be a fairly coherent guy, but this move is an anachronistic mess and whether you did it for political reasons, personal phobias or an abject ignorance about what you are defending here, this is a plain and simple denial of civil rights by a democratic government and for that you shall be judged; now and in November of 2013 when you will be run out of this state on a rail.
For now, this agonizing episode in head-in-the-sand politics as usual hits hardest at home, in my state and from my generation. I am embarrassed for both of us. But hell, I guess we’re just another in a long line of cowards.
At least, if the research buzz I’m getting here at The Desk is to be trusted, this next generation thinks we’re a fucking joke. Remember thinking that about the others? No?
That explains it.
Yours in disgust,
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus and Midnight For Cinderella.