NJ Gov. Chris Christie modern day AL Gov. George Wallace?

Friday afternoon, February 17, 2012To: Steven Goldstein, Chair and CEO, Garden State Equality, Montclair, New Jersey

Dear Steven,

Thank you for sharing your "Statement on Governor Christie's impending veto of the marriage equality bill." (Follow the link below this letter to Steven's post-veto statement.) Your openness about your cordial relationship with him, despite your differences is reflective of who and what we must be in this democracy of ours.

I came of political age where leaders who disagree passionately on the issues, who even fight with one another like cats and dogs in the political arena, were able put the fights aside and see one another as people. I grew up at a time when the legendary Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House, Tip O’Neill – a hero of mine – and President Reagan did exactly that. And it’s always been my philosophy in dealing with Governor Christie and his Administration... That doesn’t obviate the pain of the Governor’s veto. Because I do know him, I also know he is not some anti-LGBT nut. He is no Rick Santorum. Frankly, I don’t think Chris Christie has an anti-gay bone in his body, however much I cannot say the same about his impending veto. His veto will be a brutally anti-gay act, pure and simple. ~quote from full statement by Steven Goldstein

This week I received an e-mail from a friend who is not a resident of New Jersey who reminded me of something I had forgotten; Governor George Wallace's words in his January 14, 1963 Inaugural Address; "Segregation today, Segregation tomorrow, Segregation forever." My friend asked, "Is Governor Christie in his pledge to veto the Marriage Equality legislation a modern day Governor Wallace?"

I wrote back and said, "Governor Chris Christie is no Governor George Wallace." Although many of us have our points of disagreement with him, we believe he is acting out of character when he dismisses the action of the New Jersey Legislature. His suggestion of a ballot initiative that would allow New Jersey voters to determine the Constitution-granted equality rights of same sex couples is contrary to the bold, brave and bodacious spirit he has shown on many issues.

I believe he will, upon reflection, acknowledge that a ballot initiative on marriage equality weakens Constitutional intent, makes a mockery of heterosexual marriage (54 years for my wife Grace and me), and opens the door for violations of church and state; in this case church prohibitions against same sex marriage, superseding the equality intent of our Constitution.

Grace and I want same sex couples to experience the joys, struggles and more joys that have been ours in 54 years. The voters of New Jersey cannot define marriage, it has already been defined in the love, companionship and joy and sorrow we who are married have known. A ballot initiative would trivialize, rather than "protect" marriage.

I believe Governor Christie understands that. My prayer is that, what he knows in his heart will be reflected in his decision on marriage equality.

Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell Asbury Park, NJ

Late Friday, February 17, Governor Christie vetoed the marriage equality bill. Read Steven's post-veto statement here: Gold-plating a separate water fountain for a specific class of people.