Gay Marriage In New Jersey – This Year’s October Surprise?
New Jersey’s attorney general has argued that the Legislature, not the state Supreme Court, should be the branch of government to make gay marriage legal. That seems logical and given that other high courts have recently reached that conclusion, we strongly suspect New Jersey’s court will rule in favor of the state. But we aren’t betting on the court’s logic or judicial restraint, but rather on the political calculus.
Up until today we wouldn’t have had an opinion one way or the other as to how the court would rule. But the on again, off again, and finally on again schedule for handing down the decision tomorrow is a big tip of the hand.
A ruling in favor of gay marriage would be topic one in the state, drowning out all other issues for the balance of the campaign. Major reverberations would be felt around the country and the last thing Democrats, and particularly Bob Menendez, need are hot debates about activist courts and gay marriage.
The timing of the court’s decision can be controlled and a decision to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey certainly could have waited until after the election. A ruling against gay marriage can’t hurt Democrats and may well help their electoral chances.
Court imposed gay marriage in New Jersey is not going to happen. We might be wrong - but if gay marriage becomes legal in New Jersey tomorrow, the ruling will become know as The October Surprise of 2006.