Placing himself firmly on the Lester Maddox side of history, today Governor Chris Christie made good his promise to veto the marriage equality bill passed by both houses of the state legislature in New Jersey.
For Californians this is déjà vu all over again as we recall that our elected representatives twice legislated marriage equality which was twice vetoed by then Governor Schwarzenegger. And as we continue on the journey toward equality here in California, we count not just the cost of the damage done to gay and lesbian families and those who love them, but the cost of years of litigation to defend what shouldn’t need defending: the equal protection guaranteed all Americans.
We know the arc of history bends toward justice and we trust that the core American values of “liberty and justice for all” will prevail in the struggle for marriage equality as they have on other historic fights for civil and human rights. In the meantime, however, those like Chris Christie who choose to stand where Lester Maddox stood – blocking some Americans from equal access to the equal protections guaranteed all Americans – should be called to account for the cost of this culture war being waged as part of a wider political agenda.
Whether the target is health care for women or marriage for same-sex couples, all Americans suffer collateral damage when the fundamental rights of some Americans become sacrificial lambs on the altar of partisan politics.
And so when the flags fly at half-staff tomorrow in New Jersey, they won’t just be marking the sad fact of Whitney Houston’s untimely death. They will also be marking the sad fact that the Governor of New Jersey chose to stand for bigotry rather than equality. New Jersey deserves better. America deserves better. And Governor Christie should know better.