It wasn’t an overwhelming victory for gay rights advocates ( at least in terms of the score ), but it was a victory nonetheless. And I think there is a famous quote along the lines of “A win is a win is a win.” Ok, perhaps it’s not famous, but you get the idea.
Supporters need to get to 21 in the full Senate, and they are simply not there yet. Some say the number is as high as 19 ‘yes’ votes, but I am told it’s more like 16 and possibly 17.
Behind the scenes is where most of the action is taking place. Although publicly he hasn’t said much, incoming Governor Chris Christie has apparently had quite a bit to say privately on this issue. Sources say Christie met with the Assembly Republican Caucus yesterday and the Senate Caucus last week. His message was the same to both: Don’t vote for this bill.
There are a couple of theories here as to why he cares so much. Some say Christie feels strongly that civil unions provide adequate protections for gay and lesbian couples. The other postulates that he is trying to hold the party together and needs and wants them to speak with one voice. Remember the NJ Republican Leadership Committee? They were that new group that coalesced largely around this issue to force Repubs to vote no on gay marriage and pull members rightward. It was/is spearheaded by Ginny Littel and Steve Lonegan. Well, we haven’t heard much from them lately, have we?
It appears as though the party is coming together to embrace Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commendment, “Thou shalt Not Speak Ill Of Another Republican.”
We’ll see if that holds true for Bill Baroni. He was the one ‘R’ to vote for the bill in committee and sources say will be the only ‘R’ voting for it in the full Senate.
Then there are the Democrats who appear to be ready to go to war ( against each other ) over this issue. First it was reported that Senator Dana Redd would not meet with Julian Bond yesterday which prompted more than one Democrat to snipe about Camden receiving millions of dollars from Dem Governors and her failure to stand with the party at a critical time.
Sources say Governor Corzine who feels strongly about this issue has been working quietly but feverishly behind the scenes to get the bill passed. It was he who got Bond here to testify yesterday, and he who secured a letter of support from civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis.
But others speak of a more corrosive “generational divide” within the party. Many of the younger people want the Dems to take a stand on this issue which they consider a matter of civil rights, whereas some of the older party stalwarts are a little more conservative. Primaries are being threatened. For example, There is already talk about backing Assemblywoman Nellie Pou in a bid to unseat Senator John Girgenti who voted against the bill in committee on Monday night.
And another thing, If progressives stay home in the next couple of election cycles, The Dems will have a problem on their hands whether they admit it or not. And here is the final question I will leave you with…if the Republicans can get their troops in line, why can’t the Democrats???
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