Dan Blatt ’85 has mixed thoughts on New Jersey Marriage decision.
As most of you by now know, the Garden State’s Supreme Court has given state lawmakers “180 days to rewrite” state laws to give gay people “marriage or something like it, such as civil unions.”
I am delighted that the New Jersey legislature will be addressing state recognition of same-sex unions. I would rather that this had come about as it had in Connecticut rather than by judicial mandate.
On the one hand, I’m pleased that the legislature will be dealing with the issue. On the other hand, I don’t think courts should mandate which issues state legislatures put on their calendars. It seems a clear violation of the separation of powers.
Finally, because a court has mandated this, it strengthens the hand of those supporting state referenda defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Whenever one state court mandates gay marriage, it leads to a backlash against gay marriage in other states. While this ruling may be good for same-sex couples in the Garden State, I fear this may hurt same-sex couples in other states.
This analysis seems about right to me. The more active judges are in this dispute, the more likely voters are to fight back via referendum. This will be a big issue, I think, in 2008 in Massachusetts. I predict that every single Williams professor who takes a public position on this debate will be on one side. Anyone care to bet against me?