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Gov. Chris Christie is wrong: Gay marriage shouldn't come down to a vote

On Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie, much to the surprise of Republicans and Democrats alike, announced that he was moving to send the same-sex marriage debate to a statewide vote come November.

This announcement came from the same man who has, with great fervor, vowed to veto any same-sex marriage legislation that graced his desk.

It would seem that this is a huge step in the right direction – it's not.

Simply exercising democracy does not mean that we are living in a society where all men are created equal. Where in the Constitution does it say that certain citizens of the United States have the right to vote on what degree of freedom another group should have? This civil rights issue (and that is exactly what it has always been) is not something that residents of New Jersey have the right to vote on.

Now, I do not pretend to be a bleeding- heart Democrat. If you were to ask me my political affiliation, I would simply say that I don't believe in either party. Why? I don't believe in politicians because, under their infinitely wise watch, many Americans are denied equal rights, even in 2012. Forget what is best for the people of the United States – especially same-sex couples.

We, as American citizens, have certain unalienable rights – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. While everyone has the right to tell someone how they should live their life, no one has the right to decide what that is for someone else. So why, for same-sex couples, does it have to come to a vote to decide the degree of liberty they have to pursue happiness in their lives?

This government is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. This government is a secular institution, operating under no religious authority. All the attempted justifications for banning or failing to legalize same-sex marriage have been the same – "I don't believe in it," "That's not how God meant it to be" or "I don't agree with it." Well, allow me to pose this question – If I didn't agree with who you wanted to marry, does that give me the right to prevent you from doing so?

We need to stop being hypocritical as a society. If we say we are a democracy, it's time to act like it. If we say that we believe that all men are created equal, then it's time to start showing it. Voting on civil rights is not an exercise of democracy - it is a slap in the face to democracy. And while some may view Christie's actions as a glimmer of hope, I see it as a mere cop-out. Rather than giving people a reason to celebrate, it is giving people less reason to believe that America promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The fate of equal rights for all same-sex couples in New Jersey could lie in a majority vote.

Samantha Desmond is a senior public relations major from Vernon, N.J. She can be reached at

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