The rights of citizens and the popular vote

Back in January, Newark, New Jersey, mayor Cory Booker told reporters why it is inappropriate to put civil rights issues before the electorate in a popular referendum.

John Capehart wrote yesterday in the Washington Post:

Christie has a point. He and Obama both support civil unions. But there are several reasons Obama isn’t criticized as much as Christie.

Yes, Obama is in favor of civil unions. And he has caught hell from the gay community for saying repeatedly that his position on same-sex marriage is “evolving.” Heck, The Post and the New York Times have urged the president to evolve already. But let me point out the differences between Obama and Christie and why Christie fails to meet his own “courage” test.

The state legislature handed Christie a bill that would have made New Jersey the eighth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. He had the opportunity right then and there to show true courage and leadership by signing it into law. Instead, he punted. Obama has had no such opportunity to affix his signature to such historic legislation. Saying flat-out “I’m for gay marriage” would be high on symbolism and moral persuasion. But it would be low on real impact. Instead, the president has taken real actions that fly in the face of Christie’s criticism.

The Rev. Canon Angela Shepherd spoke to this issue a few weeks back when the same issue came before the legislature in Maryland, where it passed.

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