ACLU Says Christie Has Done Well on LGBT Rights — So Far

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com January 24 2012 2:32 PM ET

As all eyes turn to Gov. Chris Christie and what he will do if a marriage equality bill arrives on his desk, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey gives the governor a grade of B-minus on his LGBT rights record so far.

The fairly high grade comes because the ACLU says Christie has so far stepped up when faced with issues of fairness to the LGBT community. He signed last year what was considered to be possibly the country's toughest antibullying law. And then when a teacher in his state made antigay comments on Facebook, he was quick to condemn her words as "disturbing" and called for an examination of her behavior in the classroom. Then on Monday the governor appointed a gay Republican mayor to the state Supreme Court.

Christie was graded in eight categories, including freedom of speech and privacy rights, and received his second highest mark on LGBT rights. Christie's best was a B for freedom of religion for defending the rights of Muslims to worship.

But the ACLU still took the opportunity to lecture Christie for having once said he'd veto a same-sex marriage bill. He has since toned down that promise, saying vaguely "we’ll see what happens" when asked about it recently on the radio.

"Like too many other politicians, it seems that Gov. Christie may personally believe that gay and lesbian couples should have some degree of legal protections, but not enough to stick his neck into a controversial political fight," the ACLU report concludes.

PolitickerNJ reports that Christie said today, during a town hall at a Jewish community center in Bridgewater, that he'd prefer marriage equality be added to the ballot.

Activists had hoped Christie would make clear that his opposition to marriage equality is personal, and he seemed to do that today, which might free up other Republicans to take the opposite position. Christie also encouraged them, though, to consider his "alternative."

"I believe in the institution of marriage. I realize this is my personal opinion," he said, according to PolitickerNJ. "Rather than have stalemate and deadlock on this issue, let's put it on the ballot. It shouldn't be decided by 121 people in Trenton."

"While I know I could stop this by myself, I suggest an alternative," he said. "Let’s be governed by the will of the people on this. Let’s let the people decide. I would urge every Republican in the legislature to put it on the ballot."