Chris Christie has become something of a polarizing figure at the national level. While he’s enjoyed sustained success in New Jersey, his appeal hasn’t always passed beyond the state. Christie is now in the gay marriage conversation after his state’s Supreme Court ruling, and the new legality of same-sex marriage isn’t something Christie is going to endorse.
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is legal in the state
Recently, Chris Christie has been embroiled in a number of scandals that have tarnished his reputation and damaged his ability to run for President in 2016. Christie has made sure to keep a conservative image and face for the Tea Party voters, but he’s also made an appeal to Democrats, and locally he’s tried to pass off an aura of “bipartisanship”.
That’s likely why when the state supreme court ruled that same-sex marriage would be legal in New Jersey, Christie didn’t mount a legal defense or threaten to appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court. Instead, he’s going to comply with the ruling, which in a way gives him a political out from the right and also provides him with some cover from the left.
Christie doesn’t approve—but will comply with the ruling
Christie claims that he doesn’t approve with the state Supreme Court’s ruling, but that he will instruct state officials to comply. This lets him save face with national conservatives, as he can claim he was bound by the law to allow gay marriage in his state.
It also lets him tell liberals and potential voting Democrats in 2016 that he was one of the few state Governors to preside over a state with legalized gay marriage. Christie’s decision to comply might not seem like much on its face, but it’s actually a calculated political decision from a politician who has always coveted the Presidency.
There was a time when many didn’t think that state of New Jersey would allow gay marriage during a Republican Governorship. But those pundits didn’t account for Christie’s pragmatism or the US
Supreme Court’s ruling this past summer, which invalidated key portions of federal marriage law pertaining to benefits. Once that happened, gay rights groups in the state sued on grounds of being denied rights through the equal protection clause of the Constitution. New Jersey’s acceptance of same-sex marriage is still something that can be appealed by a following Governor, though it is unlikely. For the time being, it seems gay marriage in the state is legally protected.
Christie is still trying to salvage his national image after a number of scandals, so it is extremely unlikely that he takes on any fights right now, especially one as divisive and potentially dangerous for him politically as same-sex marriage. Christie is going to take the politically “safe” route for him right now, and for thousands of same-sex couples living in New Jersey, that route means getting their Constitutional rights honored.